'My guess is' Putin 'will move' against Ukraine, Biden says in press conference

Joe Biden
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

During a White House press conference Wednesday, President Biden responded to a number of questions about the ongoing Russian threat to Ukraine.

Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein asked whether Biden expected the threat of sanctions to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin, given that sanctions have failed to deter Russian aggression in the past.

"[Putin has] never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed," Biden responded. He also predicted NATO military support that would lead to "heavy" Russian losses.

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In response to a question from The New York Times' David Sanger about Putin's mindset, Biden speculated that Putin feels Russia has been diminished by the Soviet Union's collapse and is seeking "his place in the world between China and the West."

"I'm not so sure he is certain what he's going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something," Biden said. He also reaffirmed his administration's refusal of Russia's demand that Ukraine be permanently barred from membership in NATO but acknowledged that Ukraine joining NATO in the near future was "not very likely."

Biden did, however, suggest he would be willing to negotiate a drawdown of NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

Sanger followed up, asking whether this meant Biden was open to pulling all NATO troops out of the former Soviet bloc. "No," the president said. "We're gonna actually increase troop presence in Poland and Romania."

Reuters' Alex Alper asked if he had determined whether Putin would order an invasion.

"That decision is totally, solely, completely a Putin decision." Biden said. "No one else is gonna make that decision. No one else can impact that decision. He's making that decision. And I suspect it matters which side of the bed he gets up on in the morning ... I don't think he's made up his mind yet."

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