Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, a close ally of President Biden, questioned the commander-in-chief’s rhetoric, saying that he couldn’t understand Biden’s recent comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s hostility toward Ukraine.
Biden told reporters at a marathon press conference Wednesday that Russia would be held accountable if it were to invade Ukraine, but there seemed to be a caveat when he went further and said it depends on the actions Moscow takes. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” the president said.
“I would like to ask the president what he was thinking, because I don’t believe you give Putin an inch. He’ll take a mile, and I feel that way towards Ukraine for obvious, obvious reasons,” Durbin told Fox News on Thursday morning.
“And I feel equally strongly about the Baltic situation. They can’t afford to give Putin any entree into those countries without risking their survival,” he continued.
“If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” the statement by White House press secretary Jen Psaki read.
In addition, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a statement in response to Biden’s wavering rhetoric on Thursday.
“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelenskyy said in a Thursday tweet. “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.”
Durbin has distanced himself from the president on multiple occasions recently.
Durbin admitted that Biden perhaps went “too far” in his racially charged speech last week linking Republicans opposed to his party’s voting rights bill with prominent segregationists like Bull Connor and George Wallace.
“Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric,” Durbin told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Some of us do, but the fundamental principles and values at stake are very similar.”