White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested Thursday that “severe economic consequences” would be an appropriate and effective response to a Russian military invasion in Ukraine.
Psaki made an appearance on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” and spoke with anchors Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer about a wide range of topics — most of them centered on remarks President Joe Biden made during his Wednesday afternoon press conference — and she fielded several questions about the increasingly volatile situation between Russia and Ukraine.
The conversation began with Biden’s comments about Russia – his suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably would make a move on Ukraine, and that the global response would be dependent on what kind of move Putin chose to make.
NOW – Biden on Russia invading Ukraine: “It depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion…”pic.twitter.com/vnkySSSX9f
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) January 19, 2022
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion,” Biden said, although he was not clear on what would constitute a “minor incursion” and whether that would be a cyber attack or a physical invasion.
The response was immediate — critics wondered why Biden would differentiate between an “incursion” and an “invasion” and suggested that Putin would view his statement promising a “lesser response” for the former as a virtual green light.
A Ukrainian official told CNN’s Matthew Chance that he is “shocked that the US President Biden would distinguish between incursion and invasion.”
“This gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure,” the official said. “Kyiv is stunned.”https://t.co/zj22MovJp4
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) January 19, 2022
While Psaki was doing the live interview with Hemmer and Perino, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted his response to the situation, saying, “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power.”
We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power 🇺🇦
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 20, 2022
Hemmer read the tweet aloud, giving Psaki the chance to respond in real time.
“Well, I would be very – thank you for the opportunity. I want to be very clear. The president has conveyed directly to President Putin if there is a movement of any military troops across the border, that is an invasion,” Psaki replied, going on to say that in the event of an actual invasion the United States would respond with “severe economic consequences.”
“If they go in, that is an invasion, and there will be severe economic consequences. I know President Zelensky knows that, and we’ve conveyed that,” Psaki continued. “There are a range of tactics the Russians use and have been warning about some of those steps including the spreading of misinformation out there, which has been widespread, was widespread in 2014, the use of cyber tools and we are also going to be ready to respond to that as well, and we will be working in lock step with Ukraine.”