On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris warned Russia that if it invades Ukraine, it would pay “unprecedented” financial repercussions, and predicted that such an invasion would bring European allies closer to the US.
President Joe Biden claimed he’s “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to attack the neighbouring nation the day before Harris spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.
“Let me be clear: If Russia continues to invade Ukraine, the United States, along with our allies and partners, will impose significant and unprecedented economic costs,” Harris warned.
The vice president attempted to persuade a primarily European audience that the West had “strength through unity” and that an invasion would almost certainly result in a larger NATO presence on Russia’s doorsteps.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, and pro-Russia rebels have been battling Ukrainian forces in Ukraine’s east for for eight years. Russia has already been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union over its invasion of Crimea.
In recent months, Western concerns of an invasion have grown as Russia stockpiled more than 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders.
According to Harris, the Biden administration and its allies attempted to engage Moscow in good faith to establish a diplomatic solution but were not received with good faith by the Kremlin.
“Russia continues to say it is willing to talk while simultaneously narrowing diplomatic options,” Harris added. “Their words do not match their actions.”
As the new Ukraine crisis progressed, Harris applauded European friends for responding with a mostly uniform voice. The vice president stated that Republicans and Democrats in Washington, who seldom agree on key matters, had basically come to the same conclusion on the need to face Putin.
As she met with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the margins of the summit on Friday, Harris proclaimed, “Our greatest strength is our unity.” The Baltic states have asked the US to beef up its force presence on NATO’s eastern flank.
The White House has yet to say if those demands would be met, but Harris implied in her remarks that an invasion would result in a stronger American presence. “On the eastern flank, we will reinforce our NATO allies,” Harris added.
Biden and other administration officials have issued increasingly grim warnings that the window for diplomacy is closing as the growing crisis becomes more difficult by the day.
Putin used his own presence in Munich fifteen years ago to launch a tirade against NATO, accusing the alliance of stationing “its frontline forces on our borders.” It’s a message Putin is repeating, as he demands that the US and other NATO states ensure that Ukraine, which has long sought membership in the organization, would never be admitted.
GOP critics haven’t overlooked Harris’ chance to show off her foreign policy skills.
“Putin is a bully who thrives on power.” “Sending VP Harris to Europe for meetings and speeches will only amuse him,” Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador and a likely presidential candidate in 2024, tweeted.
However, Harris’ statements were laser-focused on her mission to gather allies.