US president Biden pledges decisive response if Russia invades Ukraine
By Stefan J. Bos
The White House said U.S. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in a phone call with that nation’s leader.
Biden told Ukrainian President Zelensky that, in his words, “the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”
Russia already annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and has since supported separatists in the country’s east.
The U.S. has expressed concerns about a possible new invasion as an estimated over 100,000 Russian troops are massing along Ukraine’s borders.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki made clear that the U.S. leader expressed support for diplomatic efforts to end the East-West standoff over Ukraine.
That includes planned talks between high-level U.S. and Russian officials set for January 9 and 10 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The show of U.S. support for Ukraine comes days after Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of severe consequences, such as tough sanctions, if Moscow invades Ukraine.
Washington and its European allies accuse Russia of threatening the former Soviet nation with a new invasion.
Moscow says the troop presence is a protection against the expansion of the U.S.-led NATO, although Ukraine has not yet been offered membership in the Western military alliance.
Despite the tensions, Ukrainian President Zelensky told his nation in a New Years’ message that he hoped that 2022 would bring more peace to his troubled country.
He also wants to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.
“We are not scared of any army at the other side of the border because a great army protects us,” President Zelensky said in televised remarks.
“But, unfortunately, we have not ended the war in the east of our country yet. This is our primary goal. That’s why I say ‘not yet’ because the New Year will be definitely better,” he added.
Over the weekend, a Ukrainian soldier was reportedly killed in what Kyiv said were several attacks launched by separatists.
It was the first known fatality since a new truce was agreed between the warring factions on December 22.
The nearly eight-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed some 14,000 people, including women and children.