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Biden botches answer on Ukraine, White House hurries out clarification

President Biden Wednesday seemed to suggest that a limited Russian incursion into Ukraine might not result in harsh sanctions.

“It depends on what it does,” Biden said about Russia. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we have to end up having to fight about what to do and not do, etcetera,” Biden said.

That left White House press secretary Jen Psaki to issue a statement trying to clean up the mess. It appeared Biden didn’t mean to say a minor incursion but rather something like a cyberattack would not result in massive sanctions.

“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,” Psaki said. “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.”

Biden also predicted that Russian President Putin would attack Ukraine.

“My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said.

But the president appeared to be trying to prevent that by throwing a bone to Moscow, saying Ukraine was not going to be joining NATO anytime soon — Putin’s main concern — and that the presence of NATO weapons in Ukraine could be negotiated.

 

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