Ukraine sees no deviation from US policy in Biden’s ‘incursion’ remark

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen through a glass door as he speaks by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/ File Photo

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KYIV, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Ukraine sees no deviation from U.S. policy in a remark by President Joe Biden that Russia could bear a lower cost for an “incursion” rather than an “invasion” of Ukraine, a top Ukrainian adviser said on Thursday.

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said Ukraine welcomes Biden’s signaling that there will be a coordinated Western response in case Russia acts on Ukraine.

“It is certainly not worth evaluating the words spoken the day before as something separate from the integral policy of the US administration,” Podolyak wrote in a WhatsApp message to Reuters.

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Biden predicted on Wednesday that Russia would act on Ukraine, saying Russia would pay dearly for a full-scale invasion but suggesting there might be a lower cost for a “minor incursion.” Read more

Biden’s comments during a White House press conference added more uncertainty about how the West would react if Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on Ukraine, prompting the White House to seek later to clarify what Biden meant.

Russian officials have denied planning an attack, but the Kremlin has massed troops near Ukraine’s borders, a buildup the West says could be preparations for war to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO security alliance.

“What was important for Ukrainian society? The fact that Western states have a common understanding that any negative scenario regarding Ukraine or in general in Europe will receive a coordinated, sufficient and sensitive response,” Podolyak said.

“At the same time, it is important to understand that diplomatic efforts at various levels are continuing and de-escalation steps are now the main focus of these efforts.”

Biden’s best diplomat. Anthony Blinken. traveled to Kyiv this week to show his support for Ukraine. He flew to Berlin for further talks on Thursday and is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. Read more

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Written by Matthias Williams, edited by Timothy Heritage

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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