President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly plans to push the Ukrainian government to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin by ceding territory, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
Biden held a virtual meeting Tuesday with Putin, during which Biden threatened an “economic” response should Russia invade Ukraine. Russian troops have been amassing on Ukraine’s border for weeks, a nation that has long sought to join NATO but is unlikely to gain membership within the next decade, officials told AP. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
U.S. officials reportedly plan to urge Ukraine to grant autonomy to eastern regions that are still controlled by separatists who participated in the 2014 Russia-backed revolt against the Ukrainian government. The eastern Donbas region has held a vague “special status” since the 2014 uprising, a status Ukrainian parliament voted to extend for another year on Dec. 3.
“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,” Biden said. “That obligation does not extend to NATO – I mean to Ukraine. But it would depend upon what 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, in the cards right now. What will happen is there will be severe consequences.”
The president’s critics have argued his stance on Ukraine is projecting a message of weakness to the world, and particularly to China. Reporters also pressed the White House on the message Biden’s Ukraine response may send to China at Tuesday’s press briefing. China has long mirrored Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine with its own threats to retake Taiwan by force.
“Some observers have described a nightmare scenario where President Putin invades Ukraine and also simultaneously President Xi uses force to reunify Taiwan with China. Is the U.S. prepared to deal with such a scenario?” a reporter asked national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“The United States is going to take every action that we can take, from the point of view of both deterrence and diplomacy, to make sure that the Taiwan scenario you just described never happens, and to try to avert the invasion into Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “That is the object of our policy right now. Those are the steps we’re taking.”
Russian troops continue to amass along the Ukrainian border, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that Moscow is prepping for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine as early as the next few weeks, according to The Washington Post.