Biden told reporters after the meeting with allies from Europe and NATO: “I had a very, very, very good meeting (…) There is complete unanimity with the European leaders.”
In turn, Berlin announced on Monday evening, at the conclusion of the conference with Biden, that Western leaders renewed their “unconditional” support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and threatened Russia with “serious consequences” if it launched “aggression” against its western neighbor.
A spokesman for the German chancellery said after the meeting, which included the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Poland, that Western leaders “unanimously agreed that it is Russia’s responsibility to take clear initiatives for calm.”
The United States stressed that there was “no difference” with the Europeans about imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, nor about the extent of the imminent threat posed by Russia to its western neighbor.
“There is no ambiguity” and “there is no difference,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price, adding: “We know that, and especially the Russian Federation knows that.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called earlier on Monday to “avoid playing with our nerves and disturbing reactions.”
In recent days, the Europeans have expressed their displeasure at the intimidation of the Americans, who seem to consider a Russian attack likely imminent.
AndThe Pentagon announced on Monday that the United States has put up to 8,500 military personnel on high alert for possible deployment as NATO forces if Russia invades Ukraine.
“The number of military personnel that (Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin) has put on high alert is 8,500,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said.
He added that “at the present time, no decision has been taken regarding the deployment of forces outside the United States.”
And Kirby explained that putting these soldiers on high alert cuts in half the time needed for them to prepare to leave the United States abroad, from ten to five days only.
He pointed out that these 8,500 soldiers, most of whom are ground forces and support units, will not be deployed in Ukraine if it is decided to send them, but rather will be deployed in the eastern European countries that are part of NATO.
“We have made it clear to the allies on the eastern side that we are ready to support their capabilities if necessary,” he said.
He explained that if it was decided to send these soldiers abroad, their mission would be to support the NATO rapid response force, which numbered 40,000, but it was also possible that the Defense Minister would use part of these forces for “other emergencies”, which he did not specify.
Kirby stressed that this rapid reaction force “has not been activated, and it is up to NATO to do so,” refusing to specify whether this force can be activated preventively or exclusively in response to Russian aggression on Ukraine.
“We do not speak on behalf of the alliance,” the spokesman added, noting that it was up to NATO to explain “under what circumstances” it would activate the force.
He added, “We are not publishing them now, and we are not saying that diplomacy is dead,” as negotiations are still continuing between Russia and the United States to defuse the crisis.
However, he stressed, “It is very clear that the Russians currently have no intention of reducing the tension.”
Kirby confirmed that Russia “reinforced” its forces on its border with Ukraine.
He said that Moscow continues to build up forces “on the border with Ukraine and in Belarus, the number (of soldiers) is increasing.” The West accuses Russia of amassing tens of thousands of soldiers on its border with Ukraine in preparation for an imminent attack, which Moscow denies.