WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden maintained that his government and NATO have no plans to send troops to Ukraine, but that if Russia invades the former Soviet republic, it will face heavy economic consequences.
"We have no intention of placing American or NATO military in Ukraine," Biden told reporters on Tuesday while shopping for gifts for his wife and grandson in Washington, according to reports. "However, I warned that if (Russian President Vladimir Putin) pushes Russian soldiers into Ukraine, there will be major economic consequences."
The US President's comments came a day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put 8,500 US troops on "heightened readiness to deploy" to Europe, citing "Russia's continued provocations along its border with Ukraine." The ready-to-deploy action, Biden told reporters, is a "NATO operation" rather than a "single US operation," and it demonstrates Washington's commitment to NATO's Article VI collective defence requirement.
He said the US would "reinforce" its soldiers if Putin "continued to build up" Russian military along Ukraine's border or "moved" the troops into Ukraine.