Joe Biden clarifies over Russia remark; Ukraine says there are no 'minor incursions' and small nations

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Jan 27, 2022, 06:48 PM(IST)

(File) US President Joe Biden Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded sharply to Biden's comment as he tweeted, 'We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations'

As Western countries fear Russian incursion in Ukraine, the United States President Joe Biden has clarified his comments that he delivered in this context as he suggested that the allies were split over how to react to any potential "minor incursion" from Russia. 

During a news conference on Wednesday, it looked like Biden is suggesting that the US and other allies might disagree over the response if Moscow stopped short of a major invasion and he also said he expected Putin to launch some kind of action. 

The presser was meant to mark Biden's administration one year in office, when he said, "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, et cetera." Biden also added that an invasion would be a "disaster" for Russia. 

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The comments invited backlash by allies as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded sharply to that on Thursday, tweeting in English and Ukrainian: "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." 

Also, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg weighed in on the situation, especially on Biden's comment as he said that the "minor incursion" comment was not a green light to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Be in no doubt that if Russia were to make any kind of incursion into Ukraine, or on any scale, whatever, I think that that would be a disaster, not just for Ukraine, but for Russia."

Biden clarification and damage control

Biden's comments appeared to some as giving Russia the green light to attack - a remark that could escalate the already heightened border issues between Russia and Ukraine. 

Biden sought to clarify his comments as on Thursday (January 20), he said that "I have been absolutely clear with President (Vladimir) Putin, he has no misunderstanding. If any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border that is an invasion".

Biden further added that such an invasion would be met by a "severe and coordinated response, economic response as discussed in details with our allies, as laid out very clearly with President Putin." 

A Western security source said as quoted by Reuters that "it was not helpful, in fact it was a gift to Putin, but we should not read too much into it. Biden has not given Moscow the green light for an attack on Ukraine. It was a slip of his tongue, and the official Western position will prevail."

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Meanwhile, the US tried to control the damage as Secretary of State Antony Blinken also commented during his address at a press conference during a visit to Berlin to meet ministers from Britain, France and Germany. 

He said, "No matter which path Russia chooses, it will find the United States, Germany, and our allies, united." 

Ukraine-Russia border tensions

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders with Ukraine, and Western states fear Moscow is planning a new assault on a country it invaded in 2014.

Russia denies it is planning an attack but says it could take unspecified military action if a list of demands is not met, including a promise from NATO never to admit Ukraine as a member.

(With inputs from agencies)

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