‘Things Could Go Crazy, Quickly’: Biden Says He ‘Didn’t Have To Tell’ Putin Not To Harm Americans In Ukraine

(Screenshot/NBC News)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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President Joe Biden delivered mixed messages in an NBC News interview Thursday regarding what would happen if Russia threatens American citizens in Ukraine.

Biden sat down with NBC’s Lester Holt to discuss the first year of his presidency and current challenges facing the administration. The president has committed to not deploying American troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion of the country, but Holt pressed him on whether he would break that commitment if it were necessary to rescue American citizens caught in the fray.

“How do you do that, how do you even find them?” Biden said when Holt followed up to clarify that Biden would not send in troops to rescue Americans.

“That’s a world war, when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another,” the president said. “I’m hoping, that if in fact he’s foolish enough to go in, he’s smart enough not to in fact do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens.”

Holt followed up, asking if Biden had told Putin that endangering Americans was a line he could not cross. Biden said he had, then immediately contradicted himself and implied he hadn’t because he didn’t need to.

“Yes,” he said when asked if he told Putin Americans were a red line. When Holt pressed, Biden changed his answer: “I didn’t have to tell him that. I’ve spoken about that and he knows that.” (RELATED: ‘Violent Gesture’: Russia Begins Military Drills With Belarus Near Ukrainian Border)

Biden closed by telling Americans in Ukraine they should leave now. “We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. This is a very different situation, things could go crazy quickly.”