Biden’s ‘Minor Incursion’ Blunder Has Putin Laughing With Glee - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Biden’s ‘Minor Incursion’ Blunder Has Putin Laughing With Glee

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden all but invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attack Ukraine while bumbling through his two-hour-long press conference.

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and what not do, et cetera,” he said, fostering the possibility that a smaller amount of Russian military aggression might incur little response from NATO. Biden added that it would be “a disaster” for Russia if it used its full capacity to launch an attack. 

He might as well have said, “Please! If you only launch a small-scale attack, we’ll be divided amongst ourselves and let you get away with it. We will only enact minor sanctions. Please don’t go all the way to the Dnieper. Just take some territory in the east.”

The reaction to that abject lesson in how to project weakness was immediate, forcing Press Secretary Jen Psaki to issue a correction about one hour after the press conference. 

Biden’s remarks have left the Ukrainian government terrified and uncertain of NATO’s commitment to stopping Putin from going rogue.

“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” she said. 

Meanwhile in Moscow, Putin was surely loving to hear of fissures in the West and flighty American resolve. 

Biden was forced on Thursday to give another correction to his remarks, saying that any Russian troops moving across the border would constitute an invasion. The administration was embarrassed to clarify what it has sought to portray as its stance all along. 

But in the press conference, Biden was not so quick to clarify his remarks. When a second reporter gave Biden the opportunity to walk back his comments, he didn’t take it. 

Instead, he doubled down. He said that he drew the line at “Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters” but then said, “But it depends on what he does, to what extent we’ll get total unity on the NATO front.”

Biden made another dangerous comment at his press conference when he speculated off-hand that Putin would launch an invasion (“My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”). That prediction creates expectations for Putin and lends normalcy to such an attack, but the administration could offer no correction to Biden’s honest guess.

Some reasoned that Biden’s comments would not alter Putin’s decision-making on whether or not to launch an invasion because it was just one gaffe among consistent U.S. threats of severe consequences. 

One Western security source told Reuters, for instance, that Biden’s remarks were “not helpful, in fact it was a gift to Putin, but we should not read too much into it. Biden has not given Moscow the green light for an attack on Ukraine. It was a slip of his tongue, and the official Western position will prevail.”

But real damage was done by Biden’s remarks. They revealed to Putin that Biden is not sure he will impose sanctions as severe as the ones he has threatened. Moreover, his comments demonstrated that the United States has deep concerns about whether or not NATO would react with unified strength if Russia attacks. 

Biden’s remarks have left the Ukrainian government terrified and uncertain of NATO’s commitment to stopping Putin from going rogue. 

A Ukrainian official told CNN that Biden’s comments “give[] the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure” and added that “Kyiv is stunned.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”

The Ukrainians were so afraid after hearing Biden’s comments because they are predicting that Putin’s invasion strategy would be one of small incursions. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ukrainian intelligence believes that Putin would pursue covert measures rather than a large-scale attack in order to destabilize the country. 

Biden’s comments aren’t the only evidence of fractures in the West’s commitment to penalizing Russia in the case of an attack. Germany, for instance, has given conflicting answers on whether or not it would cut off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. ​​

But Biden’s press conference is the first public indication that the U.S. isn’t as sure of imposing severe sanctions as it has made itself out to be. Those comments very well might make Putin think he can get away with attacking Ukraine without incurring harsh sanctions from the West. 

Putin might laugh his way all the way to Kyiv. 

Ellie Gardey
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Ellie Gardey is Reporter and Associate Editor at The American Spectator. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she studied political science, philosophy, and journalism. Ellie has previously written for the Daily Caller, College Fix, and Irish Rover. She is originally from Michigan. Follow her on Twitter at @EllieGardey. Contact her at
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