Biden: Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘very much a possibility,’ holds out hope for diplomacy

President Biden says a Russian invasion of Ukraine is still possible even as he expresses cautious optimism that diplomacy may avert a major conflict.


President Biden said Tuesday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “still very much a possibility,” even as he encouraged signals from Vladimir Putin that Moscow would return to the negotiating table.

“As long as there is hope of a diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and the incredible human suffering that would follow it, we will pursue it,” Biden said.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president expressed cautious optimism following claims by Russia that some of its troops were moving back from positions along its border with Ukraine.

“That would be good, but we have not yet verified that yet,” Biden said, noting the more than 150,000 Russian troops encircling Ukraine. Those troops, Biden said, remained “very much in the threatening position.”

Reiterating that the U.S. and NATO allies remain aligned behind a plan to impose “powerful sanctions” in response to a Russian invasion, Biden predicted that Putin would regret launching an attack and eventually see it as “a self-inflicted wound.”

Biden made clear that U.S. forces, taking part in a NATO defense effort, are shoring up neighboring countries that are members of the alliance. He called NATO’s Article V “sacrosanct.” Article V is a provision of the NATO charter that requires members to defend one another if attacked.


“We are not seeking direct conflict with Russia,” the president said, adding that “if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully. If Russia attacks the United States or allies through asymmetric means, like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond.”

Biden also informed Americans that an escalating conflict could have an impact domestically.

“I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices,” he said. “So are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets .... We’re coordinating with major energy and energy consumers and producers.”

Biden’s parting words to the American people made clear that he sees the situation as far from resolved: “I’ll keep you informed,” he said, turning and walking away from the lectern without responding to questions.

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Russia says it will move some troops on the Ukraine border back to their garrisons, apparently signaling an easing of tensions with the U.S. and NATO.