US President Joe Biden said Moscow will “pay a heavy price” for any move in Ukraine as he tried to clean up confusion over an earlier suggestion that a "minor" attack could invite a lesser response.
United States President Joe Biden said that any Russian troop movements across Ukraine’s border would constitute an invasion and that Moscow would “pay a heavy price” for such an action.
The statement on Thursday was the latest US effort to clear up comments Biden made a day earlier when he suggested that a “minor incursion” by Russia could result in a more measured response by the US and allies.
“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin, he has no misunderstanding. Any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said.
An invasion would be met with a “severe and coordinated economic response as discussed in details with our allies as laid out very clearly with president Putin,” he added.
"But there is no doubt, let there be no doubt at all, that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price."
His comments came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepared to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a high-stakes bid to ease tensions in Geneva on Friday.
'No minor incursions'
On Wednesday, Biden said he thinks Moscow will invade and warned Putin that Russia would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible cutoff from the global banking system if it does.
But Biden also prompted consternation among allies by saying the response to a Russian invasion “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,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was among those expressing concern.
“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,” he tweeted.
Russia denies it is planning an invasion and, in turn, accused the West of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine, citing the delivery of weapons to the country by British military transports in recent days.
The crisis is “about the sovereignty and self-determination of Ukraine and other post-Soviet states. And at its core, it’s about Russia’s rejection of a post-Cold War Europe that is whole and free,” Biden said.