WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his administration is not sending troops to confront a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- Biden spoke with President Putin on Tuesday, warning of severe economic consequences if a Russian invasion will occur.
- Russia’s military troops on Ukraine’s borders start to build up, sparking invasion fears.
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the US will not send troops to defend Ukraine against Russia because the former is not a NATO member.
“The idea the US will unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now,” Biden told reporters. “We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies under Article 5. It’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine.”
According to NATO’s charter under Article 5 — the principle of collective defense that underpins the alliance — an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all. It was invoked only once in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US.
However, Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invaded Ukraine, there would be “economic consequences like none he’s ever seen or ever have been seen.”
Biden also said that a Russian invasion would likely require the US to “reinforce our presence in NATO countries to reassure, particularly, those in the eastern flank.”
“In addition to that, I made it clear that we would provide a defensive capability to the Ukrainians as well,” the president said.
Ukraine has partnered with NATO, especially after Russia’s seizure of Crimea from the country in 2014. Many NATO countries border Ukraine to its west and south, including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
Biden and Putin spoke on Tuesday amid the rising tensions over Ukraine. Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border, which has prompted fears of a military incursion.
Ukraine has been at the heart of geopolitical tensions between Moscow and the West for years.
While experts say the tensions are largely a product of Putin’s actions, the Russian leader has blamed NATO and the West for the contentious dynamic.
The US has given Ukraine Javelin missiles, which are useful in countering Russian tanks; radios and unarmed drones; and armored Humvees, according to Defense One. The Biden administration hasn’t detailed which additional weapons it would offer if Russia invaded.
While the US has effectively signaled it would not go to war for Ukraine, it has also underscored that a Russian invasion would lead to severe consequences.