BRUSSELS — President Joe Biden said the most effective tool to end the invasion of Ukraine will be keeping NATO and European allies united and punishing those countries that defy sanctions against Russia.
He also said, following a day of meeting with key allies here, that Russia should be expelled from the g-20 group of nations and that if the other g-20 nations didn’t support expelling Russia from the group, then he would make the case for Ukraine to be able to participate in the meetings.
"The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world to continue to focus on what a brute this guy [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is and all the innocent people’s lives that will be lost and ruined and what’s going on," Biden said during a news conference.
"If you’re Putin and you think that Europe is going to crack in a month or six weeks or two months, why not. They can take anything for another month. But the reason I asked for the meeting, we have to stay fully, totally united," Biden said.
The U.S. announced a package of new sanctions against Russia Thursday that would apply to more than 400 Russians and Russian entities, including the Duma and more than 300 of its members, along with more than 40 defense companies.
Biden said he didn’t anticipate any of the actions taken Thursday to have an effect on Putin’s behavior in the short term, pointing instead to the impact of sustained and coordinated pressure.
“Why I asked for this NATO meeting today is to be sure that after a month we will sustain what we’re doing, not just next month and the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That’s what will stop him,” Biden said.
One wild card in the U.S. efforts to economically pressure Russia is China's next move. Biden said he has made it clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that there would be consequences if he were to help Russia, pointing to the companies that have left Russia since the invasion.
"I think that China understands that its economic future is much more closely tied to the West than it is to Russia," Biden said.
Biden attended an emergency gathering of NATO leaders Thursday, where a senior administration official described the mood as having been “sober, it’s been resolute and it’s been incredibly united.” The NATO summit was followed by a meeting with leaders of the group of Seven leading industrial nations and an address to European Union leaders.
As the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II enters its second month, the discussions here stood to be among the most consequential of Biden’s presidency. While the U.S. rolled out new steps aimed at further harming the Russian economy and additional assistance for Ukrainian refugees, Biden made no new military commitments to Ukraine.
While Biden has committed $2 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told NATO on Thursday that his nation still needs more military equipment, specifically tanks and fighter jets.
“You have at least 20,000 tanks. Ukraine asked for a percent, one percent of all your tanks to be given or sold to us,” Zelenskyy said in a speech to NATO. “But we do not have a clear answer yet. The worst thing during the war is not having clear answers to requests for help.”
One topic the leaders discussed Thursday was the possibility that Putin might use chemical or biological weapons, something Biden said earlier this week was a “real threat.” Biden declined to elaborate on what NATO would do should Putin use chemical weapons but said the response would be “in kind.”
The administration also announced plans to take additional steps to prevent Russia from attempting to prop up its economy, like making clear that any transactions involving gold related to the bank are prohibited and calling on corporations to no longer conduct their activities with Russia in a business-as-usual manner.
And the White House said it would allow as many as 100,000 Ukrainians to enter the U.S., with a focus on those who are most vulnerable. The administration is also prepared to offer more than $1 billion in additional funding toward humanitarian assistance and $11 billion over the next five years to address worldwide food security threats after the disruptions to the Russian and the Ukrainian agricultural industries.