Biden Says a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Would ‘Change the World’

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
January 25, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would “change the world” and reiterated that the United States “has no intention” of sending troops to Ukraine.

“There will be enormous consequences if [Russian President Vladimir Putin] were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country—or a lot less than as well—for Russia, not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences, but there will be enormous consequences worldwide,” Biden said to reporters during a visit to a shop in Washington on Jan. 25.

“This would be the largest—if he were to move in with all those forces—it would be the largest invasion since World War II,” Biden added. “It would change the world.”

Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “there is no intention or interest or desire by the president to send troops to Ukraine.” And Biden has said previously that sending troops to Ukraine is “off the table.”

Administration officials continue to assert that the United States and its allies would impose “severe” sanctions against Russia if it were to invade Ukraine. And that the movement of tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border suggests an invasion could happen “at any time.”

A top Ukrainian official, however, appealed for calm on Monday, saying “there are no grounds to believe” that Russia is preparing to invade.

The Pentagon announced Monday that at Biden’s direction it’s placing 8,500 American troops at a “heightened readiness to deploy” in support of Eastern NATO allies should the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine warrant.

And over the weekend the U.S. State Department ordered family members of U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the Ukrainian capital and authorized the voluntary departure of non-essential civil servants.

Russia has denied it is planning an invasion but has issued a list of demands that includes NATO promising to not allow Ukraine to become a NATO member state.

Psaki confirmed last week the United States will respond to the Kremlin in writing.

In a series of high-level talks between Washington and Moscow, U.S. officials have said the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance is “ironclad” and that any decision of whether Ukraine can join the alliance should be between Ukraine and NATO only.

“There is no trade space there. None,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken Friday.

The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that an invasion of Ukraine will be a prolonged “painful, violent, and bloody business” for Russia.

Johnson said people in Russia “need to understand that [Ukraine] could be their new Chechnya”—a Northern Caucasus nation that was in conflicts with Russia for more than 26 years.

Russia seized control of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and Ukraine’s Donbas region has since seen violence that has taken more than 14,000 lives. The region is now under de facto control by Russia-backed separatists.

Lily Zhou contributed to this report.