Congressman warns Russia will attack Ukraine; Biden assures Ukraine of US support; and repeats threat of sanctions if Russia invades

Putin warned that such actions would lead to “a complete rupture of relations.”
Joe Biden (L) and Vladimir Putin meet at the start of the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva. (Photo: Denis Balibouse - Pool/Keystone)
Joe Biden (L) and Vladimir Putin meet at the start of the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva. (Photo: Denis Balibouse - Pool/Keystone)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan24) – As the extended Christmas to New Year’s holidays drew to an end, Rep. Adam Schiff (D, California), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned that it would likely require extremely strong measures to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine, where it has had over 100,000 troops mobilized along their common border.

Adam Schiff’s Pessimistic Warning

Appearing Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Schiff was questioned about that situation. “What specifically would stop [Russian President] Vladimir Putin (from attacking Ukraine)?” the host asked. 

“I think that it would require enormous sanctions on Russia to deter what appears to be a very likely Russian invasion of Ukraine again,” Schiff responded. “And I think our allies need to be solidly on board with it.”

Also, on Sunday, US President Joe Biden held a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That discussion followed a conversation between Biden and Putin on Thursday—their second in less than a month—in which Biden had reiterated to Putin that if he attacked Ukraine, the US and its allies would respond with excruciatingly painful sanctions.

Subsequently, Putin warned that such actions would lead to “a complete rupture of relations.” Even more dramatically, a senior foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, asserted it would be a “colossal mistake that would entail grave consequences.”

Despite speaking of an ominous response, Moscow has provided no further details—at least not publicly—as to what it might be.

Read More: Biden, Putin exchange warnings amid continued Ukraine tensions

Biden’s Assurances to Zelensky

Biden spoke similarly in his conversation with Zelensky on Sunday. He “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” according to a read-out of their discussion provided by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

In 2014, when Barack Obama was president, Putin seized the strategic Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, and it has since supported separatists in the east of that country. Thus, it is inaccurate to suggest that any Russian assault on Ukraine now would constitute the first move against that country.

Psaki also noted that Biden and Putin had agreed to three sets of discussions next week to deal with the issue. On Jan. 9-10, the US and Russia will hold bilateral talks. They will be followed by discussions between NATO and Russia and then by a third set of talks within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Ukraine and Russia are both members, as is the US and the European countries.

And another initiative was added to the diplomatic agenda on Monday. The European Commission announced that the European Union’s foreign policy head, Josep Borrell, will visit Ukraine from Jan. 4 to 6 to observe the “contact line” between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists in the east.

Then, on Jan. 6, a meeting will be held in Moscow among Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France under the “Normandy Format.” That framework was established after Russia seized Crimea. Obama did not really want to deal with the issue, so the US is not a party to that format. Over the past seven years, however, it has produced little tangible results.

Speaking briefly to reporters on Sunday, Biden reiterated that he had “made it clear” to Putin in their last conversation “that if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions.”

Moreover, “We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies,” Biden added, affirming that Russia will pay “a heavy price.”

The current tensions between the US and Europe, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, are the most serious since the end of the Cold War, over 30 years ago.