The U.S. would not send troops to evacuate American citizens stuck in Ukraine if Russia moves forward with an invasion, President Joe Biden stated Thursday.
Biden made the statement during an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt. He urged Americans currently in Ukraine to evacuate the country, warning that any deployment of U.S. troops after a Russian invasion could lead to a “world war.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
“American citizens should leave now,” Biden said Thursday. “It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”
Lester pressed Biden on whether there was any situation in which he would deploy U.S. troops to assist Americans evacuating.
“There’s not,” he responded. “That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another. We’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been.”
The statement is the second time this week that Biden has urged Americans to evacuate Ukraine. He first made the direct appeal on Monday during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He has clarified that U.S. diplomatic officials are to remain in the country, however.
Russia has been amassing troops along Ukraine’s border for months, though Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any intention to invade. Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a late January phone call that a Russian invasion was likely in February.
The State Department evacuated the families of U.S. diplomats from Ukraine in late January and sent out a memo advising U.S. citizens who were there for non-diplomatic purposes to evacuate as well.
Biden, Scholz and other NATO members have threatened severe economic consequences for Russia if Putin moves forward with an invasion. Biden stated that in addition to “decisive” sanctions, an invasion would end the Nord Stream 2 project. Nord Stream 2 is a years-long, multi-billion-dollar project to construct an oil pipeline from Russia to Germany. The project is all-but completed, however, raising questions as to how the U.S. could halt its completion.
Biden stated Monday alongside Olaf that if Russian “tanks or troops” cross the Ukrainian border, then “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.” While Olaf refused to specifically state that Germany would end the Nord Stream 2 project, he affirmed that Germany was “completely united” with the U.S. on any consequences for a Russian invasion.
“I promise you, we will be able to do it,” Biden said when pressed about how he would ensure the pipeline doesn’t move forward.