President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz participate in joint press conference
The United States and Germany announced their “united approach” to deterring further Russian aggression against Ukraine, with President Biden warning that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will not be operational if Russia follows through with an invasion of Ukraine.
Biden welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Sholz to the White House for his first official visit to Washington on Monday for what he described as a “very productive meeting” in which the two discussed their countries’ “shared values that shape how each of us approaches leadership.”
Both Biden and Scholz, during a joint press conference Monday, said they spent a significant amount of time discussing the situation between Russia and Ukraine, maintaining their preference to pursue a diplomatic approach to prevent an incursion.
“If Russia makes a choice to further invade Ukraine, we are jointly ready, and all of NATO is ready,” Biden said, noting that the U.S., Germany, their allies and partners would “impose swift and severe consequences if Russia violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We are in agreement that it cannot be business as usual if Russia further invades,” Biden said.
Presidents Biden and Putin
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Scholz, during his opening remarks, stressed the “military threat” in Ukraine and “against Ukraine.”
“We cannot remain silent,” Scholz said.
The two leaders were pressed on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and whether that project, which the Biden administration has opposed, would be suspended should Russia invade Ukraine.
“If Russia invades, that means tanks and troops crossing the border of Ukraine again,” Biden said. “Then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
When asked how, Biden said: “We will. I promise you. We will be able to do that.”
Scholz, too, was pressed, amid Germany’s growing dependence on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“I want to be absolutely clear: We have intensively prepared everything to be ready with necessary sanctions if there is military action against Ukraine,” Scholz said.
“You can be sure that there won’t be any measures in which we have a different approach,” Scholz said of Germany and the United States. “We will act together and will take all necessary steps.”
Biden chimed in, saying that Scholz has “the complete trust” of the United States.
The Nord Stream 2 has seen a faster development and deployment despite sanctions placed on it by the Trump administration. With those sanctions removed, Germany remains keen to see the pipeline activated sooner rather than later.
Scholz has insisted that the pipeline is a “business project,” according to German outlet DW.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech during a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Biden last year removed sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, allowing construction and activation to proceed.
The plan to allow Russia to develop the pipeline to create leverage in times of political crisis may have backfired, as Germany has also rapidly grown dependent on the completion and activation of the pipeline.
“I know that he is in a position now to be able to invade, almost assuming that the ground is frozen above Kyiv,” Biden said. “He has the capacity to do that. What he is going to do, I don’t know.”
He added: “I don’t think anybody knows but him.”
The president urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country.
“I think it would be wise to leave the country. I am not talking about our diplomatic corps. I am talking about Americans who are there,” Biden said. “I would hate for them to get caught in cross-fire, if in fact they did, and there’s no need for that.”
At this point, the Pentagon confirmed last week that the U.S. has intelligence that Russia is likely to “fabricate” a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. officials believe that Russia is planning to “stage a fake attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces against Russian sovereign territory or against Russian-speaking people to therefore justify their action as part of this fake attack,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby explained.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4 in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The U.S. is sending 3,000 troops to NATO to buttress Europe as Russia prepares for potential military action in the region against Ukraine.
The Pentagon on Wednesday said the forces “are not going to fight in Ukraine,” but instead would “ensure a robust defense of our NATO allies.”
Another 8,500 troops that Defense Secretary Austin put on heightened standby, though, “are not currently being deployed, but remain ready to move if called for the NATO response force or as needed for other contingencies as directed by the secretary or by President Biden,” Kirby said Wednesday.
Last week, top Pentagon officials said the build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border is the largest since the Cold War and warned that conflict in Eastern Europe would be “horrific.”
Meanwhile, the White House, on Wednesday, backed away from its characterization that Russia’s invasion into Ukraine is “imminent,” saying officials “still don’t know” if Putin has “made a decision” on incursion.
Russia has denied it intends to launch an attack. Russian officials said NATO must promise not to allow Ukraine to join the alliance, among other demands, which the United States and NATO have rejected.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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