'Gigantic mistake for him' if Putin invades Ukraine: Biden

President says US, NATO prepared if Russian leader chooses to move militarily against Ukraine.

'Gigantic mistake for him' if Putin invades Ukraine: Biden

US President Joe Biden warned Monday that it would be a "gigantic mistake” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to make any military moves against Ukraine amid concern over Moscow’s buildup of troops near its border.

"He has to realize that it would be a gigantic mistake for him to move on Ukraine. The impact on Europe and the rest of the world would be devastating, and he would pay a heavy price," Biden told reporters at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Biden reiterated that Washington would impose severe sanctions on Russia if Putin decided to invade Ukraine, which he said would affect the US and European nations as well, "but it will have a profound impact on his economy."

Scholz’s visit is his first to Washington since taking office in December, and the two leaders discussed bilateral relations, cooperation between their two countries and potential sanctions against Russia amid tensions near the Ukrainian border.

Biden praised Germany for its role "in pushing de-escalation of tensions and encouraging dialogue with Russia through the Normandy format.

"But if Russia makes the choice to further invade Ukraine, we are jointly ready and all of NATO is ready," he said.

The US president also said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will not move ahead if Ukraine is invaded by Russia.

"If Russia invades -- that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine again -- then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it," said Biden.

Germany remains reluctant to block the gas pipeline, although the US administration and NATO’s eastern members called on Berlin to take a harsher stance.

Under pressure, Scholz said last week that everything will be up for discussion, including the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, if Russia takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.

Later, the White House issued a statement regarding the meeting between the two leaders, during which Biden reaffirmed his commitment to further strengthening US-German relations besides addressing Russia-Ukraine tensions.

"The leaders discussed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s continued military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and reiterated their commitment to preventing Russia from using energy as a weapon.

"The leaders also discussed Germany’s G7 Presidency, including taking stronger joint action to end the COVID-19 pandemic, building back better health security, tackling the climate crisis, and supporting an inclusive global economic recovery," said the statement.

The two leaders also "committed to cooperate closely on challenges posed by China and to continue promoting stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans," it added.

Russia recently amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor.

But Moscow has denied that it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises.

The Kremlin also issued a list of security demands from the West, including a rolling back of troop deployments to some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will not join NATO.

Hüseyin Demir

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