Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Sunday that the Biden administration was pursuing a “full-force press” to find a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Speaking on ‘Fox News Sunday’, Kirby said continued diplomatic efforts by the US and its NATO allies to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin will ensure that Putin cannot blame government indifference. West if he orders his forces to invade Ukraine.
“They won’t have any excuse that deserves any credibility,” Kirby told host Bill Hemmer, indicating that Putin should take responsibility for any losses suffered during an invasion.
On Friday, President Joe Biden said he believed Putin had already decided to go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine, a position supported by Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday. But Kirby said the situation was fluid because it’s unclear exactly what Putin is planning or when.
“It’s hard to know what Mr. Putin is thinking at any given time,” he said.
Kirby also said the Western alliance was united in perceiving a threat from Russia.
“The leaders we met in Brussels as well as in Lithuania and certainly in Poland all see the situation in the same way as we do. They believe that Russia continues to prepare for a new invasion of Ukraine”, a- he declared.
Kirby also reiterated that the issue of Ukraine’s possible NATO membership is not something that is open to negotiation with Putin, but that there are other issues that could be discussed. And he said the Biden administration was not yet inclined to impose full sanctions because the threat of sanctions was seen as a deterrent.
“If you’re punishing someone for something they haven’t done yet, then you might as well go ahead and do it,” he said. “So we’re leaving that open, and we’re hoping that might affect Mr. Putin’s calculation.”
This logic was attacked by Republicans on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the president is just going to wait for Russia to decide whether to go get the jugular in Ukraine, and then probably announce half measures that won’t have that kind of effect on Vladimir Putin,” the senator said. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo.”