Russia Ukraine conflict

Harris warns Russia of unprecedented sanctions if it invades

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US Vice President Kamala Harris warned Russia on Saturday that it will face “unprecedented” financial costs if it invades Ukraine and predicted that such an attack would draw European allies closer to the US.

Harris spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany the day after President Joe Biden said he’s “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the decision to invade the neighboring country.

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“Let me be clear, can say with absolute certainty: If Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States, together with our allies and partners, will impose significant, and unprecedented economic costs,” Harris said.

The vice president aimed to make the case to a largely European audience that the West has “strength through unity” and that an invasion would likely lead to an even bigger NATO footprint on Russia’s doorsteps.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, and pro-Russia separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the country’s east for almost eight years. The US and the European Union previously sanctioned Russia over its seizure of Crimea.

Western fears of an invasion have escalated in recent months as Russia amassed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.

Harris said the Biden administration, along with its allies, had sought to engage with Moscow in good faith to find a diplomatic resolution but was not met the Kremlin in good faith.

“Russia continues to say it is ready to talk while at the same time it narrows the avenues for diplomacy,” Harris said. “Their actions simply do not match their words.”

Harris credited European allies for speaking with a largely unified voice as the latest Ukraine crisis has unfolded. The vice president said Republicans and Democrats in Washington - who rarely agree on many major issues - have largely reached the same page on the necessity of confronting Putin.

“We came together and are now speaking with a unified voice,” Harris said.

Harris on Friday declared "our greatest strength is our unity” as she met with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the sidelines of the conference. The Baltic countries have requested the US increase its troop presence on the eastern edge of NATO.

The White House has not yet said whether it will fulfill those requests, but Harris suggested in her comments that an invasion would lead to a bolstered American presence.

“We will further reinforce our NATO allies on the eastern flank,” Harris said.

The vice president was scheduled to meet after her speech on Saturday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Scholz says Russian attack on Ukraine would be 'serious mistake'

NATO urges more Russia talks to defuse Ukraine crisis

Russia has posted up to 190,000 personnel ‘in and near Ukraine’: US diplomat

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