Vice President Harris warned on Sunday that the world is looking at “the real possibility of war in Europe” and said that the U.S. may “incur some cost” if Russia invades Ukraine.
“It’s been over 70 years … as I mentioned yesterday, there has been peace and security. We are talking about the real possibility of war in Europe,” Harris told reporters at the Munich Security Conference.
Harris stated, however, that the Biden administration still believes that a “diplomatic end to this moment” would be in the best interest of all parties.
“When America stands for principles, and all of the things that we hold dear,” Harris replied, “it requires sometimes for us to put ourselves out there in a way that maybe we will incur some cost and in this situation, that may relate to energy costs, for example, but we are taking very specific and appropriate, I believe, steps to mitigate what that cost might be if it happens.”
Harris also seemingly responded to calls that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made for pre-emptive sanctions to be issued against Russia.
“We don’t need your sanctions after the bombardment will happen, and after our country will be fired at or after we will have no borders or after we will have no economy or parts of our country will be occupied,” Zelensky said at the Munich conference. “Why would we need those sanctions then?”
Harris on Sunday reiterated that the U.S.’s stance that sanctions should be used for deterrence.
“I strongly believe and remember also that the sanctions are a product not only of our perspective as the United States, but a shared perspective among our allies, and the allied relationship is such that we have agreed that the deterrence effect of these sanctions is still a meaningful one,” she said.
As The Associated Press noted, claims that Russian citizens are being endangered in Ukraine could be used by Moscow as justification for invading Ukraine.
On Sunday, a Belarusian defense official also said military exercises between Belarus and Russia would be extended, citing the “aggravation of the situation” in eastern Ukraine.