Washington, Feb 27 (PTI) Russian President Vladimir Putin is manufacturing threats that do not exist in order to justify further aggression in Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki alleged on Sunday, vowing that the US will stand up for it and may slap energy sanctions on Moscow.
The US and its allies have imposed tough sanctions on Russia to cripple its economy for invading Ukraine.
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Psaki said those sanctions were on par with Iran, cutting them off from a banking system with the global community.
“We have now also sanctioned 80 per cent of their banks and their financial sector. This makes it very difficult for President Putin and the Russian government not only to do business, but also to help fund a greater expansion of their military and innovation in their country. So, we have taken severe steps already. But, of course, there’s more we can always consider doing,” Psaki said.
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Responding to a question, she said the energy sanctions against Russia were also on the table.
“This is really a pattern that we’ve seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression. And the global community and the American people should look at it through that prism. We’ve seen him do this time and time again,” Psaki told ABC News in an interview.
“At no point has Russia been under threat from NATO. This is all a pattern from President Putin. We are going to stand up for it. We have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we’re seeing here from President Putin,” she said.
Psaki said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was standing up courageously against the invasion of Putin and the Russian leadership.
“When President Biden spoke with him, the last conversation he had with him, President Zelenskyy asked for additional security assistance. That’s exactly what we delivered. And we will remain in close contact with him. But President Biden is maintaining a line of communication with him, as we all are,” she said.
In another interview on a Sunday talk show, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, alleged that Putin was reckless, evil and dangerous.
“There are two reasons why he could be doing this, one, because this war is not going well and he’s being painted into a corner and he wants to be stronger to try to negotiate a way out,” he said.
“The second one is, he’s unstable, that he literally tried to have a nuclear weapon option going forward. At this moment in time, no country in the world should stand with Putin. Everyone should unite around the basis of what he just claimed to take in just the last hours,” McCarthy said.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in another television interview, observed that Putin has descended into something that she personally has not seen before.
“I don’t know where he is in that dark world, but I will say this: we have to make sure that he really understands that the cost would be extraordinary to try to cross an Article 5 line, an attack upon one is an attack upon all. And so, the Baltic States are indeed protected under that guarantee by the United States of America,” she said.
“If he meets the kind of resistance that he is meeting in Ukraine, if he can’t get an easy win, if it looks like he’s not going to achieve his objectives, there is a chance that he pulls up. But I want to make sure that he does. I want to make sure that he doesn’t decide that Kaliningrad, which is a Russian territory that is cut off by the Baltic States, is his next way to connect Kaliningrad back to Russia. That would involve the territory of the Baltic States,” Rice said.
“So, what we’re doing in reinforcing NATO forces in the Baltics and in Poland, NATO’s eastern flank, if you will, this is a way to make sure that he knows the cost would be very high,” said the former Secretary of State.
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