President Joe Biden said Friday the United States and NATO would not be intimidated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, warning that the Western alliance would defend “every inch” of its territory if attacked.
“America and its allies will not be intimidated,” he said in a speech at the White House. Putin will “not frighten us”.
Biden then addressed the Kremlin leader directly, pointing his finger at the TV camera as he warned of an attack that would spill beyond Ukraine into NATO territory.
“America stands ready, along with our NATO allies, to defend every inch of NATO territory,” he said. “Mr. Putin, don’t get me wrong: every inch.”
Biden spoke shortly after Putin chaired a ceremony in Moscow to explain that Russia has annexed four more regions of Ukraine, even as western-armed Ukrainian troops continue to fight to restore control there.
Putin and several supporters have suggested that, having declared part of Ukraine as Russia, the Kremlin could now legitimately resort to nuclear weapons to defend what he calls Russian territory.
Biden called out his Russian counterpart’s “reckless words and threats,” but dismissed Friday’s ceremony as “a mock routine he put on” to show strength, instead demonstrating that “he’s fighting.”
Shortly thereafter, Biden’s top national security official said that while Putin could resort to nuclear weapons, it was not imminent.
“Given all of Putin’s loose talk and nuclear saber-rattling, there is a risk that he would consider it, and we were equally clear about what the consequences would be,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
“We currently see no evidence of an imminent use of nuclear weapons.”
Sullivan stressed that Washington was communicating privately but “directly with Russia about the type of decisive response that the United States would have.”
– More deliveries for Ukraine –
The United States has walked a fine line since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in February, channeling increasing amounts of military support to Kyiv without directly interfering — while guarding against potential spillovers.
Sullivan noted that several reinforcements had been sent to reinforce US forces stationed in Europe and said they were ready should Russia escalate.
“We feel that we now have the capacity to respond to any eventuality,” Sullivan said.
As the Ukrainian army makes fresh advances against the Russian invaders in the east, Washington keeps up the pace of new shipments of ammunition and weapons.
There will be “another announcement of immediate security assistance to be announced next week,” Sullivan told reporters, noting that the US government also just pledged longer-term supplies of weapons to Ukraine, including 18 new Himars multiple-missile systems, that would have to be made first.
Congress on Friday passed another national spending bill that includes an additional $12.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
“This new grant aid is further evidence of US confidence in Ukraine and will support critical government operations and provide assistance to the Ukrainian people suffering from Russia’s brutal war,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Biden addressed the mysterious explosion at the major Nord Stream subsea natural gas pipeline from Russia to Western Europe, echoing other Western leaders who said it was “a deliberate act of sabotage.”
He did not say who the United States believes was behind the attack, but he did call Russian claims that Washington was involved “disinformation and lies.”
“We will work with our allies to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he told reporters.
“At the appropriate moment, when things calm down, we will send divers down to find out exactly what happened,” Biden said, adding that the United States is already working with allies to “protect this critical infrastructure.” to enhance .”