BRUSSELS (NYTIMES) - President Joe Biden said Russia should be removed from the G-20 organisation of industrialised and developing nations because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, but he said that if the member nations do not agree to the measure, then Ukraine should be allowed to participate in the group’s meetings in the future.
“I raised the possibility” of ejecting Russia from the organisation, Biden said on Thursday (March 24) during a news conference here as he met with other world leaders.
Such a move would echo the 2014 decision of a smaller group of the world’s largest economies to eject Russia from the Group of 8 to punish it for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Biden’s comments came after a day of rare and intense global diplomacy in which he and the leaders of 30 other nations participated in three back-to-back summits aimed at expressing solidarity in confronting Russia. He met with Nato and the Group of 7; one final summit for the day, with the European Union, has just begun.
The Nato and G-7 leaders announced new economic sanctions on Russia, additional aid for European countries dealing with the surge refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine, the deployment of more forces to Nato countries in Eastern Europe and grim preparations for the possibility that Russia might use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Biden and the US allies have moved with unexpected speed and authority over the past four weeks, rallying much of the world against Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Thursday’s historic gathering of leaders underscored how the United States and its allies have in some ways reached their self-imposed limits.
The sense of stalemate on the battlefield is now also felt in the halls of diplomacy, where taking any dramatic new steps has proved to be difficult. Europeans have said they were not willing to bear the consequences of new sanctions on the Russian energy they depend on. And Biden has said he was not willing to commit troops to fight against Russia, fearful of provoking a bigger war.
Biden balked when asked whether the actions announced Thursday would cause Putin to halt the war when the threat of sanctions did not deter him from invading in the first place.
“I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him,” Biden said. “Sanctions never deter.” But on Feb 11, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said “the president believes that sanctions are intended to deter.”
Six days later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was at the United Nations “not to start a war, but to prevent one.”
On Thursday, Biden said maintaining unity in imposing sanctions for months will eventually persuade Putin to abandon his aggression. Biden said Putin will not be able to wait out the allies if they remain united in keeping the pressure on.
“That’s what will stop him,” Biden said. “The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world to stay focused on what a brute this guy is. That’s the important thing.”
Biden also said Nato “would respond” if Russia used chemical weapons in its assault on Ukraine. But he did not say whether the United States has intelligence suggesting that Putin was planning to use such weapons. And he declined to be specific about the kind of response Nato would employ.
“We would respond if he uses it,” Biden said. “The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”