President Joe Biden addressed the American people at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, saying U.S. analysts had seen no sign that Russia was pulling back its troops from the Ukranian border and warned of severe economic consequences should Russia invade.
That invasion, he said, is “distinctly possible,” with nearly 150,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides. Russia has said it is conducting military exercises and that its troops will go home afterwards.
Although Biden said no U.S. troops would be sent to fight in Ukraine, they will continue taking part in military exercises with NATO allies. However, the U.S. will continue military and other support to Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy had been moved from Kyiv to Lviv, which is closer to the Polish border.
The U.S. says Russia should enter negotiations with it and Ukraine. Russia says it does not want Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Also today, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. But so far we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground.” NATO’s defense ministers will meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
Biden warned the U.S. would “rally the world” should Russia invade Ukraine, declaring that the West would bring enormous pressure to bear on the financial and industrial sectors. In particular, he said, the Nordstrom 2 pipeline to Germany “will not happen” if Russia attacks Ukraine.
Acknowledging that U.S. gas prices are high, Biden said his administration is taking action to bring “relief at the gas pump.” He did not say whether that would include dipping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, although that is a distinct possibility. President George Bush tapped the strategic reserve during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we will surely pay a steeper price tomorrow,” Biden said.