The Biden administration is keeping up its campaign against Russian aggression targeting Ukraine. The Russian military build-up on the border of Ukraine has been continuing, raising concerns that Russian authorities could imminently launch a further invasion of the smaller country after having already annexed the Crimean peninsula in recent years. On Saturday, President Joe Biden directly spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to whom he insisted — per a recap of their call from the White House — that the United States is prepared to participate in the imposition of “swift and severe costs on Russia” in the event of the feared invasion of Ukraine.
Call ended at 12:06.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 12, 2022
An official from the Biden administration said that the Saturday conversation ended with “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has been unfolding now for several weeks,” adding: “Russia may decide to proceed with military action anyway.” That official summary of Biden and Putin’s conversation from this weekend reads as follows:
‘President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia… President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios.’
NBC News: President Biden warned Putin that the U.S. and its allies "will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia" should an invasion of Ukraine occur. @NBCNews
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 12, 2022
The statement added that Biden “reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing.” Meanwhile, the United States is pulling diplomatic and military personnel out of Ukraine; only what ABC referred to as a “skeleton crew” was slated to remain on the diplomatic front, and 160 soldiers from the Florida National Guard who’ve been in Ukraine “advising and mentoring Ukrainian forces” (as Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby put it) are leaving. ABC reported this weekend that there had been “no update provided on the status of U.S. special operations forces that have also been serving in Ukraine as part of a training mission with Ukrainian special operations forces.” Plans that have been under development to support Ukraine in the event of a potential Russian invasion of additional territory apparently don’t include a U.S. military presence within Ukraine’s borders, as that ABC report notes.
“We remain committed to keeping the prospect of de-escalation through diplomacy alive,” the official said. “But we're also clear eyed about the prospects of that, given the readily apparent steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight, right before our eyes."
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 12, 2022
Biden and his team have consistently faced claims from Republicans that they’ve somehow been too lenient with or weak in the face of Russian aggression, which is not supported by the facts. For instance, the Biden administration is continuing to deliver military aid for the Ukrainians, including another shipment that was scheduled to arrive in the country this weekend. Also: Republicans who’ve backed Trump and haven’t changed their positions are hardly in a position to authoritatively speak about standing up to threats like Putin. While in office, Trump specifically advocated for Putin to be brought back into the G7 group of world leaders, from which he’d been removed because of aggression towards Ukraine. Trump also repeatedly downplayed other authoritarian threats, like Russian meddling in U.S. elections and the Saudi leadership-led murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
BREAKING: Pres. Biden held his third call with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin and warned that the U.S. and its allies "will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia" if it invades Ukraine, according to a brief White House readout. https://t.co/okQhxW1mZ7
— ABC News (@ABC) February 12, 2022