Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Sunday the Biden administration is continuing a “full-court press” to find a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Kirby said that continuing diplomatic efforts by the US and its NATO allies to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin will guarantee that Putin can’t blame the indifference of the West if he orders his forces to invade Ukraine.
“They won’t have an excuse that merits any sort of credibility,” Kirby told host Bill Hemmer, indicating that Putin would have to shoulder the blame for all casualties incurred from an invasion.
On Friday, President Joe Biden said he believed that Putin has 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 is fluid because it is unclear what exactly Putin is planning or when.
“It’s hard to know what Mr. Putin is thinking on any given moment,” he said.
Kirby also said the Western alliance was unified in perceiving a threat from Russia.
“The leaders that we met with in Brussels as well as in Lithuania and certainly in Poland all see the situation the same way we do. They believe Russia continues to make itself ready for another invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Kirby also reiterated that the question of Ukraine possibly joining NATO is not something that is open for negotiation with Putin, but that there are other matters that could be discussed. And he said the Biden administration is not inclined to impose full sanctions yet because the threat of sanctions are seen as a deterrent.
“If you punish somebody for something they haven’t done yet, then they might as well just go ahead and do it,” he said. “So we’re holding that in abeyance, and we’re hoping that that could affect the calculus of Mr. Putin.”
That logic came under attack from Republicans on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the president is simply going to wait until Russia decides to go for the jugular in Ukraine and then probably announce half measures that will not have that kind of effect on Vladimir Putin,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark .) said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo.”