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Ukraine president pushes back on Biden's incursion remarks, US warns Russia of severe response

US Germany Blinken
Posted at 11:42 AM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 11:45:52-05

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, appeared to push back on U.S. President Joe Biden's recent remarks where Biden suggested that a "minor incursion" by Russia would elicit a lesser response involving NATO involvement.

As CNN reported, Biden's comments add to a different tone from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, which warned of a "severe" response if Russia sent military forces into Ukraine, in an apparent attempt to clarify the U.S. position on Russia.

President Zelensky wrote on Twitter Thursday, "There are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties."

At a Wednesday news conference, President Biden said, "It's one thing if it's a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera." The U.S. president continued saying, "If there is something that is where there's Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters, et cetera, I think that changes everything," Biden said. "But it depends on what he does, to what extent we'll get total unity on the NATO front," he continued.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken warned of a unified, "swift, severe" response from the United States and its allies if Russia sends any military forces into Ukraine. Blinken's comments in Berlin on Thursday appeared to be another effort to clear up confusion about the position of the U.S. and its NATO allies after U.S. President Joe Biden was heavily criticized for his remarks.

Top American and European diplomats are seeking to project a united front to Russia over concerns that it may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. Blinken said Russia is threatening the foundations of world order with its build-up of an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine's border and must face a severe global response if it invades.

As The Hill reported, the secretary reminded the world that the U.S. would prefer a diplomatic route to the tensions and called for Russia to calm what Blinken described as a "contrived crisis."

The U.S. Treasury Department says it's levying new sanctions against four Ukrainian officials, including two current members of parliament who administration officials say are part of a Russian influence effort to set the pretext for further invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions name parliamentarians Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn and two former government officials.

According to Treasury, all four have been intimately involved in disinformation efforts by Russia’s federal security service, known as the FSB. The announcement comes days after the White House issued a new warning that Russia has stationed operatives in and around Ukraine possibly to create pretext for an invasion.