US president Joe Biden predicted on Wednesday that Russian president Vladimir Putin will make a military move into Ukraine but said a full-scale invasion would trigger a massive response that would be costly for Russia and its economy.
“My guess is he will move in,” Mr Biden told a news conference. “He has to do something.”
Mr Biden indicated that the US and western response to a move by Russia could be calibrated depending on what Russia does, amid American concerns that an assault into Ukraine could be launched in days or weeks.
“Russia will 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 to not do, etc,” Mr Biden said.
“But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing . . . it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine,” Mr Biden added.
Mr Biden and his team have prepared a broad set of sanctions and other economic penalties to impose on Russia in the event of an invasion. Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border and demanded that Nato provide guarantees that it will end its eastward expansion.
Mr Biden also acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic has left Americans exhausted and demoralised, but insisted at the news conference, organised to mark his first year in office, that he has “outperformed” expectations.
He said he would likely have to settle for “big chunks” of his signature economic package in order to break an impasse in Congress. He said he believes important parts of it will be passed before the 2022 midterm elections. – Reuters/AP