Photos released by Pentagon on Tuesday showed US defence personnel at a military base in Delaware, Biden’s home state, loading weapons bound for Ukraine on to a cargo plane that later arrived at the Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv.
.@usairforce airmen and civilians from the 436th Aerial Port Squadron prepare cargo in support of Ukraine at Dover… https://t.co/Dw0Ug1fBqM
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) 1643129725000
Washington has already shipped $600 million in military assistance to Kyiv and US officials said plenty more, including air defence systems, are the pipeline, even as Biden pledged all help short of US boots on the ground in Ukraine. He also warned of personal sanctions against the Russian President if he invaded Ukraine.
Asked in a press gaggle “Would you ever see yourself personally sanctioning him if he (Putin) did invade Ukraine?” Biden replied with a “Yes … I would see that.”
.@usairforce airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron load cargo in support of Ukraine at Travis Air Force Base, C… https://t.co/3z1T0zjRjx
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) 1643129654000
Personal sanctions have been invoked against leaders of small countries — including seizing their assets in US — but never against a major power even at the height of the Cold War. US officials have suggested that Putin has amassed huge assets in the west through proxies.
According to some accounts, Washington is lining up sanctions, including travel ban, against Putin’s aides, his family, and his purported girlfriend Alina Kabaeva, a former Russian Olympic gymnast. A sanctions bill introduced in the US Congress last week described her a Putin’s “alleged mistress.”
Russian officials in Moscow dismissed the threat of direct personal sanctions saying it won’t have any serious effect financially or change its course of action. “It wouldn’t be painful politically — it would be destructive,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
Both sides continue to accuse the other of provocative actions — the US and its allies pointing to aggressive Russian troop movements on its (Russia’s) borders, and Moscow countering that it was US/NATO that is bringing war and confrontation to its borders by arming states formerly in its sphere of influence and shepherding them into NATO.
At the heart of the conflicting narrative is the Russian apprehension that US and NATO are expanding their sphere of influence further into what were its former Soviet Republics, including Ukraine, not satisfied with enlisting former Baltic Republics that were part of USSR into NATO. The US in turn believes Putin is intent on regaining Moscow’s hegemony, if not territory, and restore what some analysts have called Soviet Union 2.0.
Despite being hamstrung by domestic disquiet over any US intervention and differences among some of its NATO allies — Germany is a notably reluctant partner in the confrontation because of its dependence on Russian gas for its energy needs — Biden warned of enormous economic and political consequences if Putin invaded Ukraine, fully or in part.
“If he were to move in with all those forces, it’d be the largest invasion since World War Two. It would change the world,” he noted amid a fervid debate in strategic circles about how far the US would go to defend Ukraine.
Biden has repeatedly ruled out injecting US troops into Ukraine. Russia is pushing for even more concrete concessions, including a written commitment that Ukraine would not be shepherded into NATO.