WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Tuesday afternoon the United States was prepared to defend NATO members as the crisis on Ukraine’s border with Russia intensifies.
“Make no mistake, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us,” Biden said, evoking the alliance’s collective defense rule known as Article 5.
“If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world,” Biden said, adding that Washington’s allies were ready to impose powerful sanctions that will “undermine Russia’s ability to compete economically and strategically.”
Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden reiterated U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The president said that he will not deploy American servicemembers to Ukraine but instead to NATO member countries.
Biden’s address comes as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Brussels to meet with NATO defense ministers. Austin will meet with his counterparts for two days before traveling to NATO’s eastern flank.
Biden also said that his administration is still open to high-level diplomacy should Russian President Vladimir Putin elect to deescalate tensions.
“We’re not seeking direct confrontation with Russia. Though I’ve been clear that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully,” Biden said.
“If Russia attacks the United States or allies through asymmetric means, like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure. We’re also prepared to respond,” he added.
Biden reiterated several other costs the U.S. would impose on Russia in the event that it moved on Ukraine, including his pledge to halt a major new Russian-German gas pipeline.
The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany was finished in September of last year, but it has yet to transport any actual gas. German officials have been strategically vague about the fate of Nord Stream 2 in the event of an invasion, but Biden has been unequivocal.
For months, the U.S. and its Western allies have watched a steady buildup of Kremlin forces along Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus. The increased military presence mimics Russia’s playbook ahead of its 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, which sparked international uproar and triggered sanctions against Moscow.
The Kremlin has denied that the extraordinary deployment of Russian troops outfitted with advanced military equipment along Ukraine’s borders are preparing for an invasion. Earlier on Tuesday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that some of its forces previously deployed to its borders are in the process of leaving. The news prompted the stock market to jump and snap…
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