US President Joe Biden at the White House on December 8, 2021 (AFP / Brendan Smylovsky)
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday shook the threat of sanctions, saying Vladimir Putin had “never seen” an invasion of Ukraine, and his Russian envoy ruled that Moscow had a “right” to defend itself.
“If he invades Ukraine, there will be economic consequences he has not seen,” Joe Biden told reporters at the White House the next day. ‘Two-hour interview with Vladimir Putin.
Diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin is mounting if the Democratic president has so far refused to send US troops because Kiev is not a member of NATO. .
Kiev has the backing of new German Chancellor Olaf Scholes, who on Wednesday threatened “consequences” for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects Russia with Germany.
“Our position is very clear and we want everyone to respect the nature of the border violation,” he said in his first interview after taking office.
In front of Vladimir Putin, Mr. The White House did not specify whether Biden raised the pressure, but National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan stressed that the option was “absolutely a priority.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and European Council President Charles Michael agreed in an appeal on Wednesday that “rapid and severe sanctions be imposed on Russia.”
The United Kingdom and France have called for a restraining order against Vladimir Putin at a concert of European voices. In Paris, the Foreign Ministry thus warned Russia that the aggression against Ukraine would have “strategic and massive consequences”.
– “Safety Guidelines” –
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, December 8, 2021 (SPUTNIK / Evgeny ODINOKOV)
For its part, Russia denies any desire to be militant towards its neighbor, since it annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, but is vehemently opposed to Kiev joining NATO.
Vladimir Putin confirmed on Wednesday that Moscow has a “right to defend its security” and described it as a “crime” to allow NATO access to its borders without retaliation.
“We can only worry about the possibility of Ukraine being allowed into NATO because it will undoubtedly threaten us with military groups, bases and weapons,” he added.
During a meeting with the White House host, the Russian head of state specifically asked for “definite legal guarantees” to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.
In Washington, Joe Biden ruled that the “sacred duty” of binding him with the countries of the Atlantic Alliance would not “extend to Ukraine,” except for military intervention at this time. But he warned that a Russian offensive in Ukraine could lead to a strengthening of the US military presence in NATO member territories in Eastern Europe.
The US President also “clearly pointed out to Ukraine” that in this case, the US would provide “security mechanisms”.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Ukraine would already receive “small arms and ammunition” sent this week as part of Joe Biden’s endorsement program.
– The risk of a new conflict –
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky, who has been calling for more support from his Western allies for months, ruled out the dispute between MM on Wednesday. Biden and Putin.
“We now see a genuinely personal reaction (…) from President Biden in resolving the conflict,” he said. The US and Ukrainian presidents are due to speak on the phone on Thursday.
At the end of the call, Joe Biden will consult with the leaders of NATO’s group of nine in Bucharest, which unites members of Eastern European countries, about his exchange with Vladimir Putin and fears of an invasion of Ukraine.
The group includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
In Ukraine, a poor country in Eastern Europe, tensions are rising over fears of a new military conflict torn apart by war between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the east since 2014.
Kiev accuses Russia of supporting separatists, which Moscow denies. The conflict claimed more than 13,000 lives.
bur-gkg-led / seb