President Joe Biden said Monday that any Americans currently in Ukraine should leave the country as tensions escalate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think it would be wise to leave the country,” Biden said in response to a question at a press conference with German Chancellor H.E. Scholz at the White House.
The president immediately clarified he did not mean just the diplomatic staff in Ukraine, but any other American currently in the country.
“I’d hate to see them get got in the crossfire if in fact they did invade and there’s no need for that,” Biden said. “And if I were they, if I had anyone there, I would say leave.”
Biden said that Putin had the “capacity” to invade Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, because the ground surrounding the city was frozen.
But he said he did not know what Putin was planning to do in the region.
“I don’t know that he knows what he is going to do,” Biden said.
The president said he had “numerous discussions” with the Russians and Putin in which he was “straightforward and blunt” with him, promising the “most severe sanctions” on Russia if they invaded.
“I think he has to realize it would be a gigantic mistake to move on Ukraine, the impact on Europe and the rest of the world would be devastating, and he would pay a heavy price,” Biden said.