Blinken explains Biden’s comment about Russian ‘minor incursion’ into Ukraine

21 January 2022, 03:53 PM

The risk of Russia invading Ukraine is real and growing, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Jan. 20 in an interview with German television channel ZDF’s Heute Journal news program, commenting on Russia’s military buildup near the borders of Ukraine.

He also clarified a prior statement made by U.S. President Joe Biden that seemed to suggest that Russia may not face harsh sanctions if it restrains itself to only a “minor incursion” into Ukrainian territory.

Blinken stressed what President Biden was referring to yesterday was that there are scenarios short of Russian forces going into Ukraine that could have very similar effects to what Russia might try to accomplish.

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“For example, trying to create a coup that removes the government, using hybrid methods, using special forces, things that are not as easily seen,” he said.

Blinken pointed out that if a Russian soldier crosses into Ukraine, then “we have a profound problem.”

“(This is) a clear attack on Ukraine, whether it’s one soldier or a thousand soldiers,” he said.

On Jan. 19, Biden said that “a disaster” awaits Russia if it invades Ukraine.

However, he acknowledged that there would be limited reactions by NATO.

“President Biden has been clear with the Russian president: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a statement following Biden’s press conference recapping his first year in office.

A Ukrainian official told the CNN TV news channel in a comment that he was “shocked that the U.S. President Biden would distinguish between incursion and invasion” and suggest that a minor incursion would not trigger sanctions.

“This gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure,” the official added, claiming he’d never heard any nuance like this from the U.S. administration before.

“Kyiv is stunned,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian government.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, at a Thursday briefing said that there is no difference between a “minor” or a full-fledged Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also responded to Biden’s comment.

“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. I say this as the President of a great power,” Zelensky tweeted.

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