US President Joe Biden has caused irritation with statements about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Democrat appeared to hint at a White House news conference on Wednesday that threatened NATO sanctions could depend on the extent of a potential Russian invasion. "It's one thing when it's a minor intrusion," Biden said. "But if they actually do what they are able to do with the forces gathered at the border, it will be catastrophic for Russia."

CNN quoted an unnamed Ukrainian official as saying he was "shocked that President Biden made a distinction between intrusion and invasion." This gives Russian President Vladimir Putin "the green light to invade Ukraine at will". Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he was "stunned" by Biden's statement. The American President answered questions from journalists at a press conference marking his first year in office.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki sought clarification shortly after Biden's appearance. "President Biden has made it clear to the Russian President that if Russian forces move across the Ukrainian border, it will be another invasion, and the United States and our allies will respond quickly, harshly, and as one," Psaki said. However, Biden knows that Russia has "a comprehensive range of instruments for aggression" below the threshold of military action - for example cyber attacks and paramilitary tactics. Biden has reiterated that even such aggression by Russians “will be met with a resolute, mutual, and collective response.”

Biden, citing tough sanctions threatened by the United States and its allies, said an invasion would not be "easy" for Russia. Militarily, Russia has an "overwhelming superiority" over Ukraine. "But if they do, they will pay a heavy price. Immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term.” He suspected that Russian soldiers would invade Ukraine, but did not believe that Putin wanted “a full-fledged war”. Putin wants to put the West to the test, but underestimates the consequences.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken coordinated with the most important European NATO allies on Thursday before his crisis talks with the Russian chief diplomat Sergey Lavrov.

In Berlin he meets Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

In addition, a four-way meeting is planned, in which French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian will also take part physically and the British chief diplomat Elizabeth Truss will take part via video.

Blinken began its European trip on Wednesday in Kiev and from there again threatened Russia with "massive consequences" in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.

These would be sanctions that would have financial, economic and export control components, Blinken said.

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