With 100,000 Russian troops amassed at the Ukrainian border, the US and others in the West continue in talks with the Kremlin over a potential agre
With 100,000 Russian troops amassed at the Ukrainian border, the US and others in the West continue in talks with the Kremlin over a potential agreement to ensure safety in Eastern Europe. But some officials seem to be running out of patience, with one suggesting on Wednesday a more aggressive approach was needed when negotiating with Vladimir Putin.
Speaking of the consequences that would follow should Moscow attack Kiev, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi told reporters on Wednesday: “I think the alliance, our friends in NATO and a bipartisan majority are prepared to assist Ukraine in making sure that, if it happens, this time Vladimir Putin will get a bloody nose.”
It came as US President Joe Biden, during a news conference to mark his first year in office, admitted he thinks President Putin will certainly “test the West”.
Answering questions on the conflict from reporters, he predicted a much likely “minor incursion” from Russia on Ukraine – a statement criticised by lawmakers who read it as an “invitation” for the Kremlin to attack.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said of Biden’s remarks: “He shared the potential disunity of Western nations on tough sanctions and clearly gave Vladimir Putin the green light to launch a ‘minor incursion’.
“American credibility with our allies and adversaries alike is hanging in the balance.”
READ MORE: Biden gives up! US President predicts Putin WILL invade Ukraine despite anti-war pleas
He added: “Rather than promising to act only in the event of a major renewed invasion, what is needed is strong US leadership to rally a punishing response to Vladimir Putin’s aggression right now.
“I fear this President is not up to the task and he is inviting aggression, not deterring it.”
Republican Senator Rob Portman said: “Any incursion by the Russian military into Ukraine should be viewed as a major incursion because it will destabilize Ukraine and freedom-loving countries in Eastern Europe.”
Though Mr Biden insisted Russia will be “held accountable if it invades”, saying Mr Putin has “never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves”, he added the severity of the consequences “depends” on what the Kremlin does.
Russia has viewed the tightening ties between Ukraine and NATO as a big threat ever since Moscow seized and annexed Crimea in 2014, and the subject has made conversations with Russian officials increasingly difficult.
Negotiating sessions in Geneva, Vienna and Brussels last week are an example of how such demands are leading to deadlocks.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said after meeting US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva: “For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”
Meanwhile, Ms Sherman claimed: “We were firm… in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters to the United States.”
Mr Biden said at the news conference membership to the alliance for Ukraine was “unlikely” to happen. However, NATO promised as far back as 2008 to admit them one day.
On the nuclear issue, the US leader did not rule out an agreement with Russia over the positioning of weapons in Ukraine, saying it depended on what Mr Putin did along its border.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken will travel to Geneva to meet Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister on Friday, with a senior official telling reporters: “Secretary Blinken is 150 percent committed to see if there is a diplomatic off-ramp here.”