President Joe Biden said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would pay “a terrible price” and face devastating economic consequences if it invaded Ukraine.
Russia has amassed tens of thousands of combat-ready troops and machinery near its border with Ukraine for the second time this year, raising concerns that the Kremlin could be preparing for an invasion.
Biden told reporters the possibility of sending U.S. ground combat troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion was “never on the table,” although the United States and NATO would be required to send in more forces to eastern flank NATO countries to beef up their defenses.
“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,” said Biden.
Biden, who spoke with Putin by telephone for two hours last week, said he had made clear to the Russian leader that his country’s standing in the world would change markedly in the event of an incursion into Ukraine.
Biden spent the weekend at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Group of Seven foreign ministers, who represent the world’s richest democracies, sent a similar message to Moscow, warning of dire consequences for any incursion and urging Moscow to return to the negotiating table.
G-7 finance ministers will meet virtually on Monday to review economic concerns, including inflation, but will also touch on potential sanctions against Russia if it moves against Ukraine, officials said.
Ukraine has accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive.
Russia denies planning any attack, accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.
Biden last week promised Central European NATO members more military support amid growing concern over the buildup, which countries near Russia’s border worry could result in a similar outcome as Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, Lithuania’s presidential adviser said.
The United States sent 30 Javelin anti-tank guided missile systems to Ukraine in October as part of its annual military aid to help the country deter Russian aggression, the Pentagon confirmed on December 11.
The shipment also included 180 Javelin missiles, said Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesperson.
“The Javelins were delivered to Ukraine on Oct. 23. The United States has committed more than $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine in 2021, and this is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Semelroth.
Javelins are lethal weapons that can pierce tank armor. The United States had previously sent Javelin systems to Ukraine to help it defend against possible Russian aggression.