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On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vociferously rejected Joe Biden’s language regarding a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Biden spoke on the subject of rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and appeared to downplay the impact of any invasion by categorizing one potential form of military action as a “minor incursion.”
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades,” Biden said. “And it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera.”
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
Later in the press conference, Biden was asked to clarify his comments.
“You said that Russia would be ‘held accountable if it invades’ and ‘it depends on what it does’; ‘it’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and… we end up having to fight about what to do and what not to do,’” one reporter asked. “Are you saying that a minor incursion by Russia into Ukrainian territory would not lead to the sanctions that you have threatened? Or are you effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country?”
“Good question. That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?” Biden responded, while laughing. “The most important thing to do: Big nations can’t bluff, number one.”
“And number two, the idea that we would do anything to split NATO, which would be a — have a profound impact on one of — I think prominent impact — on one of Putin’s objectives is to weaken NATO — would be a big mistake,” Biden continued. “So, the question is: If it’s a — something significantly short of a significant invasion — or not even significant, just major military forces coming across — for example, it’s one thing to determine that if they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we can respond the same way, with cyber.”
On Thursday morning, Zelensky slammed Biden for his language on Twitter.
“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky tweeted. “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
White House press secretary Jen Psaki quickly released a statement in an attempt to walk back Biden’s language.
“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” Psaki said in a statement. “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.”
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.