US President Joe Biden has threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with “severe sanctions” if Russia launches any military action in neighboring Ukraine, despite the fact that Moscow has rejected Washington’s allegations of preparing to invade the neighboring country.
Biden told reporters on Friday in Wilmington, Delaware, that he issued the threat to the Russian leader during their phone call on Thursday.
“I made it clear to President Putin that if he makes any more moves, if he goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies. There will be a heavy price to pay for it,” Biden said.
Reporters asked Biden how the Russian president responded, he said the United States and Russia will continue to look to find ways to resolve the conflict over Ukraine.
“What I got the sense of was that he has agreed that we will have three major conferences in Europe beginning in the middle of the month with our senior staff … he did not disagree with any of that. He laid out some of his concerns about NATO and United States in Europe, and we laid ours and we said we could begin to negotiate some of those issues,” Biden said.
According to Moscow, Putin warned Biden that any new sanctions against Moscow could totally upset the Russo-American relations.
Putin issued the warning after Biden reiterated American allegations that Russia could “invade” Ukraine, claiming that Washington would impose “devastating” sanctions on Moscow in the event of such incursion, Reuters reported, citing Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.
“Our president immediately responded [to the sanctions threat] that if the West decides in this or other circumstances to impose these unprecedented sanctions, which have been mentioned, then that could lead to a complete breakdown in ties between our countries,” Ushakov said.
Such coercive economic embargo would also work to “cause the most serious damage to relations between Russia and the West,” he noted.
The US and its Western allies have cited a Russian military buildup along Ukraine’s border for their claims against Russia. Moscow denies harboring any intention of “invading” Ukraine, besides emphasizing that it can move its troops around within its own borders as it sees fit.
Last month, Biden also said he had made it clear to Putin that Russia would pay “a terrible price” and face devastating economic consequences if it invaded Ukraine.
“I made it absolutely clear to President Putin … that if he moves on Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating, devastating,” he said.
Biden said he told the Russian president clearly that Moscow’s standing in the world would change “markedly” in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also warned Russia against escalating any conflict in Ukraine.
“There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation,” he said, according to Reuters.
In response, Putin warned that Moscow will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.
Putin said the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed.
The Russian leader further said Moscow would view the deployment of certain offensive missile capabilities on Ukrainian soil as a trigger.
Washington and its allies have been harping on about, what they claim is, Moscow’s ill-intentioned plans for Ukraine since 2014, when a wave of protests overthrew Ukraine’s democratically-elected pro-Moscow government and replaced it with a Western-leaning administration.
A crisis followed after the majority of people in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to accept the new changes and took up arms against Ukrainian troops.
Kiev and the Western countries accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow denies the allegations.