WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Wednesday he has no plans to send U.S. troops to Ukraine amid fears that Russia may be preparing to invade its neighboring country.
“The idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
The U.S. has “a moral obligation and a legal obligation” to defend its NATO allies if they are under attack, Biden said, but that obligation does not extend to Ukraine because it is not part of the alliance.
Biden again warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia were to invade Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies would impose economic sanctions “like none he has ever seen.”
Biden’s remarks came just one day after he spoke with Putin for two hours by video teleconference and put the Russian leader on notice that he would face harsh consequences in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
During the high-stakes call, Biden emphasized that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the standoff.
The video conference call between Biden and Putin came amid growing concern over U.S. intelligence reports that Russia has moved 70,000 troops near the Ukraine border and has made preparations for a possible invasion early next year.
The U.S. believes Putin still hasn’t made a decision to invade Ukraine, but officials fear Russia is putting in place the capacity to pursue such escalation if he chooses to do so.
In addition to tough economic sanctions, Biden warned the U.S. would send additional defense resources to Ukraine and would probably reinforce its presence in NATO countries, particularly those in the eastern front, in response to a Russian attack against its neighbor.
Biden described his call with Putin as “very straightforward.”
“We were polite,” he said. “But I made it very clear, if in fact he invaded Ukraine, there will be severe consequences.”
Asked if he felt Putin got the message, Biden said, “I have absolute confidence that he got the message.”
Moscow has denied any plans to attack Ukraine, rejecting Western concerns as part of a campaign to smear Russia.
Analysts arguing for U.S. military restraint have been urging the Biden administration to state publicly that U.S. will not send troops into Ukraine, arguing that it makes no sense for the U.S. to pretend it would defend that country against a Russian invasion.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.