Biden warns Putin of NATO menace as Russia annexes Ukrainian areas

US President Joe Biden comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments on the military conflict in Ukraine after he…

Jonathan Ernest | Reuters

President Joe Biden has issued a harsh warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin against threatening NATO territory as Putin escalates his country’s war against Ukraine.

“America, with our NATO allies, is fully prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory. Every inch,” Biden said at the White House.

“So Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch,” Biden said, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country was submitting an “accelerated” application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance.

“America and its allies will not be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats, let me stress that,” Biden said.

“He won’t scare us and he doesn’t intimidate us. Putin’s actions are a sign that he is struggling.”

Biden also said he had been in touch with US allies and said the leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline were intentional.

“It was a deliberate act of sabotage, and now the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies,” Biden said. “We will work with our allies to find out exactly what happened.”

“Under my direction, I have already begun to help our allies improve protection of critical infrastructure, and at the appropriate moment, when the situation calms down, we will send divers down to find out exactly what happened.”

Earlier on Friday, Putin tried to justify Russia’s illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine with referendums in which the people of those areas allegedly agreed to the takeover. Western officials have called the votes a fraud.

Shortly thereafter, the US announced new economic sanctions against hundreds of Russian officials and organizations in response to the Kremlin’s annexations.

The sanctions target several shell companies outside Russia, which were set up this year to help major Russian military suppliers evade sanctions they have already faced. The US also extended existing sanctions against senior Kremlin officials to their wives and adult children.

Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect President Biden’s statement, “It was a deliberate act of sabotage and now the Russians are pumping disinformation, lies.” An earlier version contained a typo.

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