Biden causes outrage with comments on Ukraine conflict

US President Biden has raised eyebrows with comments on the likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. "It's one thing if it's a minor incursion", Biden said, but added that an invasion would be a disaster for Russia. Europe's media are outraged by the notion that Nato sanctions are apparently to depend on the scale of any invasion.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

This is how you divide Nato

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is dismissive of Biden's distinction between a "minor incursion" and a "major invasion" of Ukraine:

“He didn't say exactly where the dividing line would be but instead happily went on to say that there was disagreement in Nato on this issue. One can more or less guess which allies would like to impose only minor sanctions, perhaps even no sanctions at all, in the case of minor border violations (however they're defined). ... The attempt at damage limitation made by the White House spokesperson doesn't change the fact that Putin now knows which course to take on Ukraine in order to divide Nato at the very least. He didn't even need spies in Brussels for that.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

A little invasion is okay

To the Ukrainians, Biden's latest lapse must sound like sheer mockery, the Tages-Anzeiger criticises:

“A real invasion would be 'a disaster' for Russia, but a 'minor incursion' would be a different matter, according to Biden. No doubt this pleased Putin and convinced him that he still has considerable leeway with his troop deployment against Ukraine and the West - because a little invasion is clearly acceptable. ... Biden's press office was quick to follow up the presidential chit-chat with one of its usual stilted statements ... But Vladimir Putin had no doubt stopped listening long before that.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Give Putin a finger and he'll take the whole hand

Eesti Päevaleht says the US president's remarks take things in exactly the wrong direction:

“Was Biden's statement a slip of the tongue, a realistic assessment of Nato's options, or did he simply blurt out some sort of agreement? ... Such statements increase neither Ukraine's sense of security nor that of the Baltic states. In the years that Russia has been called upon to engage in dialogue, it has become increasingly dangerous for its neighbours. It is not interested in dialogue. In this situation, the only solution is all-round military support for Ukraine on a much larger scale than has been given so far. Nothing less will stop Putin. Give the devil a finger and he'll take the whole hand.”