President Biden on Tuesday expressed hope for a diplomatic solution to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine, while issuing a stern warning about what might happen if diplomacy does not succeed.
“To be clear, if Russia decides to invade, that will also have consequences here at home,” the President said in a speech at the White House on Tuesday. “But the American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost.”
The President then stressed that the U.S. is not seeking “direct confrontation” with Russia, but warned that “if Russia targets America and Ukraine, we will respond forcefully.” Biden said that it’s very much a possibility that Russia will invade Ukraine.
If that happens, he warned, Americans could potentially see a range of impacts, including an increase in energy prices.
“I will not pretend this will be painless,” he said.
Biden went on to warn of the possibility of cyber attacks on the U.S. or allied Western nations. If that happens, he said, “we will respond.”
“We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed, and I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns,” Biden said.
The President also expressed to Russian citizens that the U.S. and its allies are not a threat to Russia, saying that there’s “plenty” of room for diplomacy with Russia to avert conflict.
“The United State and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia. neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not have plans to put them there as well,” Biden said.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier Tuesday that some Russian troops would return to base after completing drills, Biden said that his administration had “not yet verified the Russian military units are returning to their home bases.”
“Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” the President said.