President Joe Biden confirmed in an NBC interview Thursday the United States will not send troops to Ukraine to help evacuate Americans if Russia invades, warning a U.S. presence could spark “a world war,” one day after the White House reportedly approved a plan to use U.S. troops in neighboring Poland to help Americans flee Ukraine.
President Joe Biden speaks about Russia and Ukraine in the Cabinet Room of the White House in … [+] Washington, DC, on January 20, 2022.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Biden told NBC anchor Lester Holt he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “smart enough” not to harm American citizens even if he’s “foolish enough” to invade, and he wants to avoid an evacuation scenario that could lead to clashes between American and Russian troops.
Biden told Holt, “when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another, we’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been in.”
The State Department issued a separate warning Thursday for U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, claiming the U.S. will not be able to evacuate them in the event of Russian military action and an invasion will “severely impact” the U.S. embassy’s ability to provide consular services.
The Kremlin continues to deny intending to invade Ukraine, but Russian officials have pushed the United States and its allies not to admit Ukraine to NATO.
Late last year, Russia moved about 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine, prompting the White House to warn Russia could launch an attack “at any point.” Since mid-January, the White House has warned that Russia had positioned operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, and on February 3 the State Department alleged that Russia was planning to produce a video depicting a fake attack by Ukraine on Russians in order to justify an invasion. The Biden Administration plans to task some of the 1,700 U.S. troops currently being deployed to Poland with setting up checkpoints and tent camps to serve Americans fleeing Ukraine, though those personnel aren’t set to enter Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources. Biden has repeatedly stated that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in brutal economic sanctions for Russia, and the Pentagon says Ukrainian citizens and members of both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries could face devastating loss of life, but since December, Biden has ruled out sending U.S. troops to defend Ukraine directly.
“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization,” Biden said in his interview Thursday. “We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. This is a very difficult situation, and things could go crazy quickly.”
The Biden Administration is likely aiming to avoid the chaotic scenes that marked evacuations from Afghanistan in August, after the Taliban took over the country.
A January 26 Pew study found that both Republicans and Democrats, despite sharply differing on numerous other issues, mostly agreed that Russia’s military buildup near the Ukraine border posed a threat to U.S. interests.
“The Ukraine Crisis Could Have Serious Nuclear Repercussions” (Forbes)