Broadcast and cable networks carried Joe Biden’s press conference Thursday in Brussels, where he is meeting with NATO allies, and reporters keyed in on one possibility: That Russia would use chemical weapons in the Ukraine war.
“We will respond,” Biden told reporters. “The nature of the respond will depend on the nature of the use.”
The president declined to address what kind of intelligence leads the U.S. to think that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering the use of chemical weapons, and he also did not go into specifics as to what kind of response that the U.S. and other NATO countries would take.
“It would trigger a response in kind,” Biden said. “We would make that decision at the time.”
Biden also elaborated on his phone call last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The president said that he indicated to Xi that would “would be putting himself in significant jeopardy” if China backed Putin’s action against Ukraine. Although Biden said that his comments to Xi were not a “threat,” he said that he noted that American corporations have left Russia following the invasion. That seemed to be a suggestion that China could face an economic cost.
Biden will visit Poland and hinted that he would be meeting with Ukrainian refugees who have fled to the border.
Biden took questions from six different reporters, including those from the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Der Spiegel and CBS News.
When he called on CBS News’ Christina Ruffini, Biden challenged the premise of her question: “Deterrents didn’t work. What makes you think Vladimir Putin will alter course based on the action you have taken today?”
The president responded, “Let’s get something straight. You remember if you covered me from the very beginning. I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter. The maintenance of sanctions, increasing the pain, and the demonstration of why I asked for this NATO meeting today is to be sure that after a month, we will sustain what we are doing, not just for this month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That’s what will stop him.”
Biden also announced plans for the U.S. to welcome up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine.
The Der Spiegel reporter asked Biden whether European leaders were concerned about his political fate and the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House. Biden, though, seemed to dismiss that it was a topic.
“I don’t think you will find any European leader who thinks I am not up to the job,” he said.
The White House has said that Biden intends to run again in 2024.
“The next election, I’d be very fortunate if I had that same man running against me,” Biden said.
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