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Biden says US troops in Ukraine are off the table but promises withering sanctions if Russia invades

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

President Joe Biden on Wednesday ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine to defend the country from a Russian invasion a day after laying out the consequences for such an incursion in a tense phone call with President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House, Biden said he instead warned Putin he would impose sanctions “like none he’s ever seen” should the massive build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border escalate into an assault.

But he said the US would not dispatch its own forces to Ukraine, a stance that US officials have previously ruled out as well.

“That is not on the table,” he said. “We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, that’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine.”

Instead, Biden said he told Putin in direct terms that the economic consequences of an incursion would be devastating.

“I was very straightforward. There were no minced words. I was polite but I made it very clear: If, in fact, he invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences. Severe consequences. Economic consequences like none he’s ever seen or ever have been seen, in terms of being imposed,” Biden said.

He said he believed his Russian counterpart received the message.

“He knows. His immediate response was he understood that, and I indicated that I knew he’d respond. But beyond that … we would also probably be required to reinforce our presence in NATO countries to reassure those particularly along the eastern front,” he said.

Biden said he was hopeful to announce in the coming days the beginning of a diplomatic process with Russia and other NATO allies designed to lower tensions in the region.

“We hope by Friday we’ll be able to say, to announce to you that we’re having meetings at a higher level, not just with us but with at least four major NATO allies and Russia, to discuss the future of Russia’s concerns relative to NATO writ large and whether or not we can work out any accommodations when it comes to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front,” he said.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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