Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky criticised US president Joe Biden for his ‘minor incursion’ comment with respect to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. Zelensky in a tweet, without naming Biden, said that there is no such thing as ‘small nations’ and also highlighted the Russian annexation of Crimean peninsula and its backing of pro-Russian separatists do not amount to ‘minor incursion’.
“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. I say this as the President of a great power,” Zelensky said in a tweet.
The Ukrainian president’s tweet can be seen as a public criticism of US president Joe Biden’s comments, who on Thursday said that a ‘minor incursion’ would evoke a certain response and there were disagreements among NATO members on how to respond to the border crisis in Ukraine-Russia border as tensions continue to rise.
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera. If there is something that is where there’s Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters, et cetera, I think that changes everything,” Biden was quoted as saying by news agency CNN.
Biden’s comments surprised many in Kyiv, according to a report by news agencies. Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said that he was stunned by the US’ stance as well as Biden’s comments. “We should not give Putin the slightest chance to play with quasi-aggression or small incursion operations,” Dmytro Kuleba was quoted as saying by news agency the Wall Street Journal. He added that the Russian aggression against Ukraine began in 2014 and continues.
The White House soon after Biden’s comments were released tried to clarify the statements made. “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,” the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference later on Thursday.
The Biden administration confirmed later in the day that American weapons from allies in the region were transferred to Ukraine. The US secretary of state Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.