Ukraine Assures Biden No Invasion Would Be Acceptable

Russia probably plans a series of lesser steps anyway, officials say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2022 5:35 PM CST
Ukraine Assures Biden No Invasion Would Be Acceptable
A Ukrainian soldier stands in the trench Thursday on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels, in Mariupol, Donetsk region, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak)

(Newser) – Trying to keep Ukraine's people calm as Russian troops move to its border, the nation's leaders reminded its allies of the gravity of the threat after unsettling remarks from the West. President Biden suggested Wednesday that a minor incursion by Russian forces might not be met with the same force that a full-scale one would. And French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union will concentrate on its own defense, "within the framework of NATO," then negotiate on its own with Russia. Ukraine's foreign minister pointed out Thursday that when it's your country, the Wall Street Journal reports, there's no such thing as an acceptable, not-so-bad invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky also called out Biden without using his name. "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations," Zelensky tweeted Thursday, per the Washington Post. "Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power." Biden revisited the issue with reporters Thursday, saying he's told President Vladimir Putin that any crossing of the border will be treated as an invasion. "If Putin makes this choice," Biden said, "Russia will pay a heavy price." Putin also has warned Biden about imposing sanctions.

Ukraine doesn't figure Russia's plan is a full-scale invasion anyway, so it wants allies to not signal that lesser steps might be tolerated. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said Russian leaders know the price of an invasion would be high, per the Journal. "It will be very difficult for them to achieve their aims by military means. I think, impossible,” he said. "They have a multifaceted plan to destabilize the domestic situation on the territory of our country." That plan could include rolling in and occupying parts of Ukraine, as well as launching cyberattacks, spreading disinformation, and exerting economic pressure. A rapid assault could be launched mostly to force Ukraine to negotiate. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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