President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered an aggressive speech against Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning him again not to invade Ukraine.
Biden acknowledged messaging from the Russian defense minister that they would send troops home from the border of Ukraine but said he remained skeptical.
“That would be good, but we have not yet verified that,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.
Biden also spoke directly to the people of Russia, repeating that the United States and NATO were not a threat.
“To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy, and I don’t believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine,” Biden said, noting the deep ties of “family history and culture” between the two nations.
The president recalled that the United States fought with Russia in World War II in a “war of necessity” but warned them against choosing to pick a fight with a neighboring country.
“If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be a war of choice or a war without cause or a reason,” Biden said.
He warned Putin of widespread condemnation from Western countries of any decision on his part to attack.
“It’s about standing what we believe in and the future we want for our world,” he said.
The president acknowledged that Americans could face higher energy costs if Russia did invade.
“I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices,” he said.
Biden promised not to send armed servicemen into Ukraine but said he would supply them with military equipment and supplies to help them defend themselves and bolster neighboring NATO countries.
But he warned Russia not to hurt American citizens in Ukraine, promising to react if they did.
“If Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully,” he said.
Biden said the United States and the West had a responsibility to defend Ukraine’s borders and freedoms from a more aggressive Russia.
“If we do not stand for freedom, where it is at risk today, we will certainly pay a steeper price tomorrow,” Biden said.