President Biden caused quite the stir during his press conference on Wednesday when he suggested the US might not do anything if Russia carried out a “minor incursion” into Ukraine. On Thursday, he clarified that the US would respond if any Russian forces entered Ukraine.
“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any — any — assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said.
The president added that a Russian invasion would be “met with the severe and coordinated economic response that I’ve discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to be offended by Biden’s minor incursion comment and aired his grievances on Twitter earlier in the day. “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,” he wrote.
Biden’s apparent gaffe was also clarified by other US officials and some NATO allies. In Berlin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken preached a message of unity. “No matter which path Russia chooses, it will find the United States, Germany, and our allies, united,” he said.
Blinken is set to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. While it appears the US is keen on escalating tensions, Biden said on Thursday that there’s “room to work” with Putin on the security guarantees he is seeking on Ukraine.