President Biden addressed the Ukraine-Russia crisis during a speech from the White House on Tuesday and expressed optimism for diplomacy while warning Russia of consequences if an invasion were to occur.
Here are some key takeaways from his remarks:
An appeal for diplomacy: Biden addressed Russian citizens directly citizens and said the US and its allies are not a threat to them and that there’s “plenty” of room for diplomacy with Russia to avoid a conflict in Europe.
“The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not a threat to Russia. Neither the US nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not — do not — have plans to put them there, as well. We’re not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia. To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy,” Biden said.
The President told Russians he did not believe they wanted “a bloody destructive war against Ukraine, a country and the people with whom you share such deep ties of family history and culture.”
He harkened back to World War II, pointing out that Americans and Russians had “fought and sacrificed side by side in the worst war in history.”
Biden sounded optimistic that diplomacy would resolve the crisis after Russia publicly proposed to continue talks, saying, “We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed and I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.”
The President said the US is “proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures (and) new strategic stability measures,” adding that “these measures apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.”
A warning for Russia if an invasion occurs: Biden also cautioned that if Russia invades Ukraine in the coming days or weeks “it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation” and severe consequences.
“The human cost for Ukraine will be immense. And the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense,” the President warned, “If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.”
Biden said that though the US is “not seeking direct confrontation with Russia,” he’s been clear “that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully.”
Possible impacts in the US if invasion occurs: He also addressed the consequences Americans will face if Russia moves into Ukraine, saying that “the American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost.”
The US is prepared to respond to higher energy prices and the potential for cyberattacks, Biden said.
“I will not pretend this will be painless,” Biden noted.
Russia’s troop movements: Biden also cautioned that the US has not yet verified that Russia has begun the withdrawal of some troops following the completion of recent military drills.
“We have not yet verified the Russian military units are returning to their home bases. Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” Biden said.
The President also underscored that “Russia has more than 150,000 troops circling Ukraine and Belarus and along Ukraine’s border, and invasion remains distinctly possible.”
That amassing of troops has continued to raise fears among Western and Ukrainian intelligence officials that an invasion could be imminent.
Russia announced earlier Tuesday that some of its troops would return to base after completing recent drills, but stressed that major military exercises would continue.
Read more about Biden’s remarks here.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, DJ Judd, Nikki Carvajal, Ivana Kottasová, Nathan Hodge and Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.
A pair of banking websites are back operational in Ukraine following a suspected cyberattack.
Websites for Oschadbank and Privatbank have resumed online operations, according to the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine.
“Starting from the afternoon of February 15, 2022, there is a powerful DDoS attack being observed on a number of information resources of Ukraine. In particular, this caused interruptions in the work of web resources of Privatbank and Oschadbank,” the organization said in a statement.
“The websites of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Ukraine were also attacked. As of 19:30, the work of banking web resources has been resumed. A working group of experts from the national cybersecurity is taking all necessary measures to localize and resist the cyberattack,” the statement continued.
The websites of Ukraine’s defense ministry and armed forces were also impacted by a cyberattack on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian government agencies’ statements.
It remains unclear who was responsible for the incident as DDoS attacks can be difficult to trace to their source. Hackers are adept at spoofing their locations to make it appear as though they are in one country, while in reality they are located elsewhere.
The incident comes as Russia has massed an estimated 150,000 troops close to Ukraine’s border, according to US President Biden, and as US officials warn that a fresh Russian invasion could come at any time. Russia has denied it is planning to invade Ukraine.
A separate cyberattack hit Ukrainian government websites last month. Ukrainian officials suggested Russian and Belarusian involvement, but investigators have not formally blamed those countries for the cyberattack.
CNN’s Sean Lyngaas and Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Phil Mattingly Tuesday the White House doesn’t have a new assessment on if and when Russia might invade Ukraine.
“In terms of why today, it wasn’t based on, obviously, as you saw, a desire to put out new policy or based on something new internally,” she said. “It was just our, the President’s interest and feeling it was time to speak directly to the American people about all of those issues,” Psaki added.
However, a source tells CNN the White House was waiting to see if the Tuesday meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz changed anything fundamentally. Once that meeting occurred, and it didn’t, the source says, the White House decided they needed to deliver President Biden’s multiple-audience message.
“We don’t have a new assessment,” Psaki told Mattingly. “As I think you heard the President say it’s, there’s a distinct possibility, but we don’t have a new assessment of a decision being made either.”
In remarks from the White House East Room earlier Tuesday, Biden told reporters that the United States “have not yet verified” that Russia has begun the withdrawal of some troops following the completion of recent drills near Ukraine, warning “invasion remains distinctly possible.”
The President, Psaki said, “felt it was important to be very clear and direct with the American people about what the impact could be on them, what the consequences would be, what our values are, and why it is important to stand by, not just the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a country, but also stand among our allies and partners around the world,” in his remarks today.
“In terms of why today, it wasn’t based on, obviously, as you saw, a desire to put out new policy or based on something new internally,” she added. “It was just our, the President’s interest and feeling it was time to speak directly to the American people about all of those issues.”
President Biden said today that while he wants diplomacy to prevail in the Ukraine-Russia crisis, the US is prepared to impose serious sanctions against Russia if it decides to invade Ukraine.
This includes not allowing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to “happen.”
“We’ll impose long term consequences that will undermine Russia’s ability to compete economically and strategically. And when it comes to Nordstream 2, the pipeline that will bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House on Tuesday.
What does a $11 billion undersea pipeline between Russia and Germany have to do with Ukraine? And why is it such a big deal? The answer has everything to do with how Europe gets its energy.
The 750-mile pipeline was completed in September but has not yet received final certification from German regulators. When up and running, it would boost deliveries of gas directly from Russia to Germany.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and several EU countries have opposed the pipeline since it was announced in 2015, warning the project would increase Moscow’s influence in Europe.
Nord Stream 2 could deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. That’s more than 50% of Germany’s annual consumption and could be worth as much as $15 billion to Gazprom, the Russian state owned company that controls the pipeline, based on its average export price in 2021.
Energy is a major political issue in central and eastern Europe, where gas supplies from Russia play an essential role in power generation and home heating. Natural gas prices are already near record highs in Europe, and a conflict in Ukraine could bring more pain to consumers.
As Russia’s biggest gas customer, Germany has tried to keep Nord Stream 2 out of global politics. But the issue has become unavoidable after Russia amassed over 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.
There’s lots of history here.
Disputes over energy prices have plagued the relationship between Russia and Ukraine ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with Russia cutting supplies of gas to its neighbor on a number of occasions.
Russia has in recent months denied using energy to put pressure on Europe. But the International Energy Agency has blamed Moscow for contributing to the current European gas crisis by supplying less than it could.
Nord Stream 2 could help change the balance of power in Europe when it comes to energy. At the moment, Russia needs Ukraine, because a large amount of the gas it sells to Europe flows to the rest of the continent through the country.
Read more about the pipeline here.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just released a new bipartisan statement alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate leaders on Russia, writing that if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to “further escalate his ongoing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia must be made to pay a severe price.”
“We are prepared to fully support the immediate imposition of strong, robust, and effective sanctions on Russia, as well as tough restrictions and controls on exports to Russia, and we will urge our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to join us,” they continued in the statement.
The statement comes as Senate Republicans introduced a Russia sanctions package after stalled bipartisan negotiations.
The proposed Republican sanctions package, introduced as the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act, would “mandate sanctions” on the Nord Stream 2 project “without a waiver should Russia invade,” a release about the Act said.
The bill would sanction Putin’s “cronies, enablers and major banks,” and it would provide $500 million in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine. Out of the $500 million, $250 million of that would be “emergency funding,” and $100 million would be for “emergency lethal assistance for critical capabilities like air defense, anti-armor and anti-ship capabilities.”
CNN’s Lauren Fox and Ellie Kaufman contributed reporting to this post.
“The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us. The United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct,” Biden said.
Article 5 has been a key point of discussion among world leaders amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Article 5 of the treaty is the principle of collective defense. It guarantees that the resources of the whole alliance can be used to protect any single member nation. This is crucial for many of the smaller countries who would be defenseless without its allies. Iceland, for example, has no standing army.
Since the US is the largest and most powerful North Atlantic Treaty Organization member, any state in the alliance is effectively under US protection.
According to the NATO website, this is what Article 5 lays out:
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
In reality, the first and only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US; as a result, NATO allies joined the invasion of Afghanistan.
However, NATO has taken action on other occasions too.
It put collective defense measures in place in 1991 when it deployed Patriot missiles during the Gulf War, in 2003 during the crisis in Iraq, and in 2012 in response to the situation in Syria, also with Patriot missiles.
All three were based on requests from Turkey.
Read more about NATO and Article 5 here.
Wall Street’s Russia-Ukraine fears eased this morning after Russia announced it is withdrawing some troops following the completion of recent drills near Ukraine.
The Dow jumped 422 points, or 1.2%. The S&P 500 surged 1.5% and the Nasdaq was 2.5% higher.
Investors have been concerned that an armed Russian conflict with Ukraine could badly damage the global economy. A war could send prices surging in regions that have already been struggling with rapidly rising inflation, especially as energy supplies could be disrupted in the middle of a conflict. Russia is a major exporter of oil and particularly natural gas.
US oil futures tumbled 3.7% to just under $92 a barrel. That’s despite the fact that Russia stressed today that major military exercises would continue.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will travel to the city of Mariupol on Wednesday, his office tells CNN.
Mariupol is located in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky is expected to be there late in the afternoon.
President Biden warned a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine would have ramifications inside the United States.
“If Russia decides to invade that will also have consequences here at home, Biden said in remarks at the White House. “The American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost.”
He said Republicans and Democrats were united in their desire to defend “our most basic, most bipartisan, most American principles.”
But he added that it could lead to higher energy prices.
“I will not pretend this will be painless,” he said, noting the US was coordinating with energy producers “to provide relief at the gas pump.”
He said the US was prepared to respond to other attempts at inflicting pain on Americans, including in cyberspace.
“We’re not seeking direct confrontation with Russia, though I’ve been clear 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’re prepared to respond,” Biden said.