‘There are no minor incursions and small nations,’ Zelensky responds to Biden

20 January 2022, 05:51 PM

U.S. President Joe Biden’s comment that Russia may not face harsh sanctions if it restrains itself to only a “minor incursion” into Ukrainian territory, made during a Jan. 19 press conference dedicated to his first year in office, raised eyebrows in Washington and across the Atlantic - especially in Kyiv.

It took until the evening of Jan. 20 for Ukraine to respond officially – with a tweet by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“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.

Video of day

Earlier, at the Jan. 19 press conference, a journalist had asked Biden what Russia would face if it made a “minor incursion” into Ukraine. Biden repeated a comment made earlier in the press conference that minor actions would not be answered with overly harsh sanctions.

“Are you effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country?” the journalist asked.

“That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?” Biden replied.

The president went on: “So, the question is: If it’s a — something significantly short of a significant invasion — or not even significant, just major military forces coming across — for example, it’s one thing to determine that if they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we can respond the same way, with cyber.”

His statement raised eyebrows in Ukraine and abroad and forced the White House to publish a clarification stating that Biden has been clear with Russian President Vladimir Putin that if any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that will be seen as a renewed invasion, will be met with a response from the United States and its allies.

“President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response,” the White House statement reads.

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