Ukrainian President Zelensky Reminds Biden That ‘There Are No Minor Incursions’ After Press Conference Debacle

Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to remind President Joe Biden on Thursday that “there are no minor incursions and small nations” after the American president bungled a response about responding to a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden, during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, promised to hold Russia “accountable if it invades” Ukraine – but added a caveat that “it depends on what [Russia] does.”

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera, but if they do what they are capable of doing with the forces massed on the border, it will be a disaster for Russia if they invade Ukraine,” Biden said.

The response reportedly prompted a sharp outcry from officials in Kyiv, according to CNN. Zelensky himself issued a retort to Biden’s comments Thursday morning, though he didn’t directly name the American president.

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky tweeted, echoing Biden’s earlier comments about a minor incursion. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power.”

The White House was forced to clean up after Biden’s press conference comments. National Security Counsel spokeswoman Emily Horne swiftly issued a statement Wednesday evening on Twitter, saying the president “clarified this” and “was referring to the difference between military and non-military/para-military/cyber action by the Russians.”

“Such actions would be met by a reciprocal response, in coordination with Allies and partners,” Horne promised.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also weighed in on the debacle, issuing a statement after the press conference promising that Biden has been clear on where he stands. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)

“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” Psaki said. “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyber-attacks and paramilitary tactics.”