Concluding three days of conferences with European allies, Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday emphasised unity and solidarity and a dedication to Ukraine as Russian troops seem poised to invade.
However she stopped in need of making any new concessions to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky a day after his fiery speech on the Munich Safety Convention calling on allies to do extra to assist his nation keep away from — and doubtlessly defend itself from — a Russian assault.
“Allow us to acknowledge the place he’s in: his nation is nearly surrounded by Russian troops,” Harris mentioned throughout a 16-minute query and reply session with reporters at her lodge right here. “He got here right here make a really clear level that he doesn’t stand alone. In truth, I advised him in our assembly, the US stands with you.”
Harris, nonetheless, wouldn’t commit the U.S. to delivering further protection assist to Ukraine, as Zelensky requested throughout a gathering along with her Sunday.
“Relying on what occurs within the coming days, we are going to reevaluate the necessity that Ukraine has and our skill to help,” she mentioned.
Harris additionally prevented commenting additional on Zelensky’s impassioned assertion declaring his intention to hunt membership within the North Atlantic Treaty Group, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to forestall with the specter of battle by amassing greater than 150,000 troops throughout Ukraine’s borders.
Requested whether or not Zelensky’s repeated push to affix NATO and his agency refusal to offer Putin what he calls for leaves even much less room for a diplomatic decision to the disaster, she demurred. “I’m not going to second guess president Zelensky’s needs for his personal nation,” she mentioned, including that NATO membership “is a course of,” one which “doesn’t occur in a single day” and is a matter for all 30 nations within the alliance to determine.
Whereas Kyiv continues to be a great distance from qualifying for membership, the U.S. and NATO have rejected Putin’s demand that they promise to not admit Ukraine to the group.
Harris additionally held agency on the administration’s use of the specter of financial sanctions as a deterrent in opposition to Russia. Zelensky has urged the West to levy sanctions earlier than a possible invasion, suggesting that doing so after tanks cross his border received’t do his nation a lot good.
The U.S. sincerely hopes for “a diplomatic path out of this second,” Harris mentioned, at the same time as she reiterated dire warnings from the White Home that “We’re speaking about the actual chance of battle in Europe.”
She additionally acknowledged that Individuals might see greater vitality prices if battle breaks out, as President Biden has warned.
In the meantime, in one other ominous signal, Belarus Protection Minister Viktor Khrenin mentioned Sunday that joint navy workouts, involving about 30,000 Russian troops gathered close to Ukraine’s norther border for the previous 10 days, would proceed past their scheduled finish date of Sunday, in line with Reuters and different media. The pressure represents a good portion of the estimated 150,000 troops positioned for a possible invasion.
Harris mentioned she’d be a part of Biden’s emergency Nationwide Safety Council assembly Sunday, probably from Air Power Two en route again to Washington, and he or she echoed the administration’s heightened warnings of Russia’s readiness for an imminent invasion of Ukraine.
“Because the President has mentioned, we imagine that Putin has made his determination,” she mentioned. “Interval.”
Occasions Reporter Noah Bierman contributed to this report from Massachusetts.