U.S. President Joe Biden has predicted Russia will make a move on Ukraine but that President Vladimir Putin likely hasn’t decided and the country would face severe economic consequences should a military offensive occur.
“I’m not so sure he is certain what he is going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said at a wide-ranging press conference on January 19 to mark his first year in office.
But Biden said an attack on Ukraine would be a “disaster for Russia,” exerting a tremendous human, economic, and political toll on Moscow.
“Our allies and partners are ready to impose severe costs and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy,” he said, including sanctions on the energy sector and making it impossible for Russian banks to deal in U.S. dollars, the world’s reserve currency.
Although the Russian military is more powerful that Ukraine’s, Biden suggested the loss of life for the Russians would be “heavy.”
“This is not all just a cakewalk for Russia,” he said. “Militarily, they have overwhelming superiority. And as it relates to Ukraine, they’ll pay a stiff price immediately, near-term, medium-term and long-term, if they do it.”
On Putin, Biden said he believes the Russian president “still does not want any full-blown war” but is looking for a degree of escalation and confrontation.