Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
“America’s fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch,” Biden said at the White House.
“So, Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch,” said Biden, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country is submitting an “accelerated” application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance.
“America and its allies are not going, let me emphasize this, are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats,” Biden said.
Biden also said that he has been in touch with U.S. allies and stated the Nord Stream pipeline leaks were intentional.
“It was a deliberate act of sabotage and now the Russians are pumping out disinformation, lies,” Biden said. “We’re going to work with our allies to get to the bottom of exactly what, precisely what happened.”
“At my direction, I’ve already begun to help our allies enhance the protection of critical infrastructure, and at the appropriate moment when things calm down we’re going to send divers down to find out exactly what happened.”
Putin earlier Friday sought to justify Russia’s illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine on the grounds of referendums in which people in those areas purportedly approved the takeover. Western officials have called the votes a sham.
Shortly afterward, the U.S. announced new economic sanctions on hundreds of Russian officials and entities in response to the Kremlin’s annexations.
The sanctions target several front companies outside of Russia that were created this year to help major Russian military suppliers evade the sanctions they had already faced. The U.S. also expanded existing sanctions on top Kremlin officials to include their wives and adult children.
Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect President Biden’s statement “It was a deliberate act of sabotage and now the Russians are pumping out disinformation, lies.” A previous version contained a typographical error.
Read More: Biden warns Putin on NATO threat as Russia annexes Ukraine regions