Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Zelensky responds to Biden: 'There are no minor incursions'

by Olga RudenkoJanuary 20, 2022 6:46 pm
President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with journalists during a press marathon in Kyiv on Nov. 26, 2021. (

Officials in Kyiv reacted to U.S. President Joe Biden's Jan. 19 statement that Russia's "minor incursion" into Ukraine would provoke a different response to a full-scale invasion.

Responding to Biden's remarks, President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there was no such thing as a minor incursion when it came to military aggression, without addressing the U.S. president directly.

"We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations," Zelensky tweeted in the afternoon on Jan. 20. "Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the president of a great power."

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also denounced the idea of classifying certain invasions as "minor."

"You can't half-invade. (Military) aggression either exists or it doesn't," he said at a briefing on Jan. 20.

"Our position is very simple, and we have been communicating it to the U.S. and other countries: Russia can act in non-linear ways, but the mistakes of 2014 can't be repeated," Kuleba added. "And that is why we will not accept any attempts, should there be such attempts, to explain to Ukraine that there is no need to constrain Russia because the invasion isn't massive enough, or there is not enough evidence that the soldiers are Russian."

Earlier, CNN reported that officials in Kyiv were "stunned" by the U.S. president's remarks. Biden not only predicted that Russia would invade Ukraine, but acknowledged the existence of divisions inside NATO over possible responses to Russia should the invasion be "minor."

"This gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure," an unnamed Ukrainian government official told CNN.

The White House had to send out an urgent statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki minutes after Biden's press conference was over. The statement clarified that any invasion of Ukraine by Russia, or any other form of aggression, such as a cyberattack, would provoke a response.

Olga Rudenko
Olga Rudenko

Olga Rudenko is the chief editor of the Kyiv Independent, an award-winning media start-up launched in November 2021 by the former editorial team of the Kyiv Post. Olga is the former deputy chief editor of the Kyiv Post. She has written for global publications, and was a fellow at the Chicago Booth School of Business in 2021.

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