The US moral and legal obligation to defend NATO allies if they come under attack does not extend to Ukraine, President Joe Biden said. The US sending troops there unilaterally is not an option, he added.
Speaking with reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, Biden said he will not send US troops to Ukraine in order to stop the allegedly imminent Russian "invasion."
"That is not on the table. We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under article 5, it's a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to NATO, I mean to Ukraine," he said.
"But it would depend upon what [the] rest of the NATO countries were willing to do as well. But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not on the cards right now," the US leader added.
Biden said he made it clear to President Vladimir Putin during their video call on Tuesday that there would be "severe consequences" if Russia invaded Ukraine. His national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, described the potential US response of economic sanctions as far worse than anything imposed since 2014, when the turmoil in Ukraine began.
Moscow has rejected US claims that it's preparing an invasion of Ukraine, calling them "fake news." President Vladimir Putin warned, however, that he will not stand idly by as NATO seeks to march eastward.
"Russia conducts peace-loving foreign policy, but we have a right to provide for our own safety," he said on Wednesday in Sochi, after meeting with the Greek prime minister. It would be "criminal" for Russia to stand back and watch NATO expand to Ukraine, he added.
During their conversation, Putin asked Biden about written guarantees that NATO will not expand any further to the east, or deploy offensive weapons in countries bordering Russia. While Biden said he made no such guarantees, he said a possible meeting between major NATO members and Russia on the issue might be announced later this week.