President Joe Biden promised U.S. support for Ukraine during a Thursday phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but he was reportedly not impressed by the options offered by the American president.
Biden spoke with Zelenskyy after a call on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid news that Russia has amassed around 100,000 troops at the border of Ukraine. Biden has vowed to impose “economic consequences like none he’s [Putin] ever seen” if Russia invades Ukraine, but brushed off the notion of sending U.S. troops to help, telling reporters Tuesday that it’s “not on the table.”
“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a further military intervention,” the White House noted in a read out of Biden’s call with Zelenskyy, which occurred two days after speaking with Putin. “He reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners are committed to the principle of ‘no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine,'” the White House read out added. “The leaders called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and agreed that diplomacy is the best way to make meaningful progress on conflict resolution. President Biden underscored the readiness of the United States to engage in support of confidence-building measures to advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in support of the Normandy Format.”
Zelenskyy, according to CNN, was underwhelmed by Biden’s promises of prospective sanctions. Ukrainian officials reportedly told CNN he was hoping for upfront sanctions against Russia, though CNN’s senior international correspondent Matthew Chance noted the Ukrainian president is “publicly … very grateful for the U.S. leadership on this issue.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
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“Behind the scenes, you get a sense that there’s a bit more frustration creeping in,” Chance said. “I’ve just had a briefing from an official here in Ukraine with knowledge of the call and he spoke to me and he said look, President Biden did spell out all these very tough sanctions that would be imposed on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine, but President Zelenskyy was less than impressed by that, and to that he didn’t believe that prospective sanctions would have the deterrent effect that President Biden thought it might have on President Putin, on Russia, because he thinks that Russia would factored already factored that in.”
Biden also told Putin on Tuesday that the U.S. would give Ukraine help in the form of defense materials should Russia continue into the country. The U.S. president has been in contact with NATO allies, speaking with them on a phone call after chatting with Zelenskyy. White House press secretary Jen Psaki chalked up the two-day delay in speaking with Zelenskyy to Biden’s busy schedule.