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Putin Meets With Scholz, Says He Does Not Want War; Apparent Cyberattacks Hit Ukrainian Websites; Stocks Up Amid Diplomatic Efforts To Avoid Conflict; U.S. President Joe Biden Addresses Escalating Crisis between Russia And Ukraine. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 15, 2022 - 15:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well it was a positive day for stock markets. Investors are hopeful after Russia announced it is withdrawing

some troops from the area around Ukraine. Those are the markets and these are the main events this hour.

The German Chancellor says it is our duty to prevent a war in Europe in one-on-one talks with Putin today. The statement from the U.S. President is

expected this hour.

A top score and then tears, Russia's star figure skater takes the ice with a doping investigation still underway. We'll talk about that.

And a security issue could spoil the U.S. supply of avocados.

Live from London. It's Tuesday, February 15th. I'm Hala Gorani, Richard Quest is not here. So, I'm going to be holding down the fort. This is QUEST


Well, tonight Moscow is expressing its hope for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. This hour, we'll hear Washington's response. The

U.S. President Biden is expected to address the situation in Ukraine in about half an hour from Washington. It comes after Russia said it would

pull some of its troops back from the Ukrainian border.

In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, describe the use of a Russian pullback as quote, "a good sign."

Now, all that being said other Western officials have expressed skepticism. They note that Moscow is still carrying out large scale military exercises,

particularly the joint drills with Belarus. Mr. Putin said he remains open, he says to a diplomatic solution.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Our intension is and we strive to negotiate with our partners on the issues, which we raise

to resolve through diplomatic means, they are well-known in terms of ensuring Russia's security.

First of all, it's the non-expansion of NATO, moving NATO's military infrastructure back to 1997 and non-deployment of strike weapons near our


It all seems pretty clear. We are ready to discuss the other issues, which were indicated in the response we have received as well, but only in the

context of what is of the utmost importance to us.


GORANI: Adding to the confusion, Ukrainian officials say they are investigating an apparent cyberattack on several banks and government

agencies inside Ukraine. CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine, Phil Mattingly is at the White House.

First, Alex, to you on this cyberattack, what do we know about what institutions and ministries were targeted and how bad the damage was, and

who might be behind it?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, this is something that we are obviously keeping a close eye on and trying

to figure out as much as we can about because of all the warnings that if Russia were to invade Ukraine that there would probably be a significant

cyber component that came alongside it. Russia engages in hybrid warfare. So that's warfare on multiple fronts.

We've already seen a huge spike in disinformation, so there is significant fear that Russia could carry out some kind of significant cyberattack at

the same time. Now, we should note that the attacks that happened this evening have not appeared to target critical infrastructure in terms of the

areas and the damage that they have done, it has not been crippling in any way.

What we know now is that the web pages for two Ministries and two banks were taken down, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Armed

Forces, as well as two of Ukraine's largest banks.

We've been checking them regularly, and we still couldn't get on to at least PrivatBank, which is the biggest commercial bank here and the

Ministry of Defense. These are what are called DDoS attacks or Denial of Service attacks, and what that means is the attackers are able to

essentially flood the requests for those pages in a way that it blocks other people from getting onto those pages.

So, if you were to try to get to the Ministry of Defense right now, for example, you wouldn't be able to. So, it is the web pages, the forward

facing, you know, public engaging aspect of these pages that are not working. There is no evidence yet that anything behind that, so the

infrastructure of these banks, the money or military communications, no evidence that any of that has been affected.

And we also don't know who is behind this, Hala, this is something that is relatively commonplace, it is something that is relatively simple. Criminal

hackers do it all the time, so we can't rush to any sort of judgment, but we also can't be completely dismissive of this because this is such a

heightened state of tension and alert.


MARQUARDT: For now, Hala, it looks like the attacks were limited in terms of these four different entities and bodies, and limited in terms of the

damage that they have caused -- Hala.

GORANI: Well, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.K. who I spoke to last hour told me he was able to access his account in one of the banks, but not

able to perform any type of transfers or anything like that, but he is able to see that his balance is there, and he believes intact. So there is that,

which is good news.

Phil Mattingly, let me let me ask you about what were we expect from the U.S. President because we've had quite a few interesting developments from

Moscow with Vladimir Putin saying, you know that diplomacy is -- still that diplomatic track is still very much alive. What do we expect to hear from


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala interesting developments that U.S. officials have been watching very

closely and have noticed. According to one official, I was speaking to that there has been a shift. Now what that shift means is still very much an

open question, but the willingness for Russian officials and what looked like very scripted and choreographed remarks yesterday between the Foreign

Minister and President Putin.

Also President Putin's remarks today at his press conference with the German Chancellor seem to indicate some type of change and it is within

that lens that the President has decided to make this public statement today.

Now, it is not expected to be a lengthy set of remarks, it is supposed to be a brief update according to the White House where the President,

however, will make very clear that if a diplomatic pathway is what the Russian government, what the Russian President wants to pursue that pathway

is very much something that the U.S. and its Western allies are willing to go down with the Russians to see if there is some type of outcome to reach.

They have obviously put proposals on the table. The Russians have made clear those proposals aren't enough yet, but mostly they just want to

engage in real substantive discussions.

Now, keep in mind, this comes as U.S. officials, Western officials are very skeptical about some of the declarations that they've seen, the idea that

they are pulling troops back from the border, at least some troops that they say have completed exercises. There has been no indication or evidence

that that is actually the case, and even if that is the case, as you noted, Hala, there is still a significant force surrounding Ukraine's borders

right now.

And U.S. officials have made very clear over the course of the last 48 hours, they have seen more offensive capability moved into place than they

have seen withdrawals with U.S. officials pretty clear that they believe not only is an invasion likely, it could come within the next several days.

So how the President addresses that here will be very important. I would note this was not on his schedule at the start of the day. This was a

decision that was made during this morning, a morning where Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and

it is also a statement that the President has largely not made in public over the course of the last several weeks.

This was a decision by the White House. It'll be interesting to see how the President frames what we've seen the last 24 hours.

GORANI: All right, thanks so much, Phil Mattingly and Alex Marquardt. Alex is in Eastern Ukraine, Phil is in Washington, D.C. and we will be going

live, of course, to Washington when President Joe Biden makes his remarks about the situation in Ukraine.

And as Phil was mentioning there, it was not on his schedule this morning, it was added later.

So where do things stand now for Vladimir Putin? What has he gained and lost with this brinkmanship? He's now dealing with a Ukraine that is better

armed and equipped than before the crisis, thanks to aid from the U.S. and its NATO allies. Washington is also giving Ukraine economic support to help

reduce its reliance on Russia.

On the other hand, energy prices are at seven-year highs, which helps Russia's economy. Europe imports nearly half of its gas from Russia. We

live in a globalized, interconnected world.

Although Russia's aggression has placed new scrutiny on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, will it happen if Russia invades?

My next guest says Putin's gamble on Ukraine was a major miscalculation. Carl Bildt is a former Swedish Prime Minister. He's now co-chair of the

European Council on Foreign Relations and he joins me live from Stockholm.

First, your reaction to this announcement by the Kremlin that some Russian troops are going back to their bases after drills, even though there are

other movements going in the opposite direction, and as I was speaking to the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.K., there are also some field hospitals

according to their Intelligence being set up near the border.

So you have on the one hand, news of a withdrawal but on the other hand, news of movement in the opposite direction. But overall, what did you make

of what Putin said today and these announcements about troops withdrawing to their bases?

CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: I think everyone is aware that he wants to keep the military pressure up. I mean, he might be moving some

forces around somewhat, he might be withdrawing something, he might be adding, but I don't think that anyone has seen anything that could be

classified as a major change in the military precision.

At the same time -- sorry?

GORANI: Go on. Go on.


BILDT: No at the same time, of course, he has a slight opening for diplomacy. We or the west to be precise is still waiting for the written

answer that the Russians have promised.

I saw that Foreign Minister Lavrov two days ago said that he had delivered a draft of 10 pages of that particular answer to President Putin, but that

has not yet arrived in Washington, I understand and that's going to be a critical document because that will see -- that will show how much the

Russians might be willing to talk and how much we are still in a complete diplomatic stalemate about the entire thing.

GORANI: Do you think Vladimir Putin wants to go to war with Ukraine at this stage? Or do you think this is all just a way of squeezing more

concessions out of the U.S. and Western countries on NATO and on other issues?

BILDT: I think if he can achieve what he wants to achieve without a war, there is no doubt that he will prefer that, that's fairly obvious. The

problem is, of course, that his aims that he set out, what he wants to do, his demands are impossible, he will simply not get them.

GORANI: Exactly. But that's because we've been saying that now for weeks, he wants NATO to guarantee that it will not expand to include Ukraine. NATO

says that's a nonstarter.

So I mean, where does he go from here? If that's his security demand, it will not be met? And so therefore, is he willing to go to war, a war that

might be extremely damaging to him, both militarily and economically, in order to stake his claim on Ukraine, which he believes should be part of a

greater Russia potentially?

BILDT: Well, we simply don't know. But I would hope that both the military and the others in Russia, look at the military option, they will see that

it is simply insane. There is no way that Russia can come out politically, economically, whatever, as winning that particular contest over time.

I mean, they might sort of have a military to do battlefield victories in Ukraine. But then they would end up in extremely difficult situation as a

country for a fairly long time to come. I think it's going to be disastrous. But does he understand that? We don't know. He has an

impeccable track record of misjudging Ukraine. That is a fairly isolated man, as we can see.

And he is the ultimate commander. I mean, during the Soviet times, I was a politburo, they couldn't even vote on this. He votes now, so that's


GORANI: What does Russia's military involvement in places like Syria, Georgia, the annexation of Crimea tell us about what Vladimir Putin is most

likely to do here because helping the Assad regime stay in power by bombing civilians that was obviously a tragic and horrendous human rights offense,

but it wasn't coming at great cost to the Russian military, whereas this would be a different situation for the country.

BILDT: It's a completely different ballgame. I mean, even Georgia in August of 2008 was minor, Syria even more minor, if you look at the actual

-- how many forces were employed, and things like that, if you compare with this.

What we are talking about now is I understand, there is somewhat more than 100 battalion battlegroups deployed along the borders. It would be not a

small war, it will be a major European war that will go on for weeks, perhaps months, with immense consequences.

And I would sincerely hope that they're all slightly more sensible and some sane people in Moscow does understand the catastrophe that is will be.

GORANI: Do you think Sergey Lavrov gets it or not?

BILDT: I've got the impression what I saw him, what he said to President Putin or what they sent out to be precise, so far, he said to President

Putin that he wanted to contain the diplomatic track. I would think that -- I mean, Russia has a competent diplomatic service. They have people who

know what's going on in the outside world.

I doubt that there are very many of those who are sort of looking forward to an invasion. They know the price that that will entail for Russia.

GORANI: Carl Bildt, thanks so much for joining us live from Stockholm. Always a pleasure talking to you. Have a great evening.

BILDT: Thank you.

GORANI: Well, Wall Street was not optimistic yesterday and is optimistic today that tensions are easing in Eastern Europe. The Dow shot up at the

open and has more or less stayed there all day. All the major averages are in a broad based rally more than making up for yesterday's losses in fact.

European markets bounced back today, too. Germany's DAX and the CAC in Paris led the gains. The FTSE in London and the Zurich SMI also closed

higher. The Russian President Vladimir Putin sounded open to diplomacy during a visit today from the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz and that's all

it took for investors to think that things were looking brighter -- brighter for the markets.


GORANI: Oil is coming back down on that news as well. Brent crude and WTI were down nearly five percent earlier, both are still trading above $90.00

a barrel at levels last seen in 2014, but they are down now by three and a third percent.

Matt Egan joins us from New York with a little bit more. So, we're talking about oil prices having softened a bit, but their levels are still

extremely high. This fuels inflation, this makes production costs much higher for factories, for the whole production cycle and production chain.

So, this is not great having oil at this level.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Hala, that's right. Oil prices do remain elevated. And, you know, that's one of the things that I think investors

are paying most attention to now, because high inflation is really the biggest problem in the U.S. economy and in many different economies around

the world, and this Russia-Ukraine crisis has the potential to make inflation even worse, because Russia is the number two oil producer in the

world; second only to the United States. It pumped more oil last year than Canada and Iraq combined.

And we know that oil supplies are very limited right now. They are failing to keep up with demands. JPMorgan has warned recently that if there's any

disruption to Russian energy flows, to Russian oil flows, oil prices can go up to $120.00 a barrel.

In a new analysis from RSM today said that even if oil just goes to $110.00 a barrel, we could see inflation in the United States hit 10 percent. We

haven't seen anything like that since 1981 and that would actually completely confound the expectation right now, which is for inflation to

cool off in the coming months.

Ten percent inflation would be a big problem, and it would probably force the Federal Reserve to become even more aggressive in terms of its efforts

to tame inflation by raising interest rates.

So I think all of this explains why investors are paying attention to every single headline that's come out in the last few days on this crisis,

because really, it can pose a lot of different challenges to the investment environment, to the economic recovery. So what happens next is really a big

deal for financial markets.

GORANI: Yes, Matt Egan thanks very much. We'll talk soon.

Coming up, Russian skater, Kamila Valieva takes to the ice in Beijing under intense scrutiny following that doping scandal. We'll tell you how she did

and the reaction she got from the other skaters after the break.

And the American sitcom, "Friends" is rereleased in China with major plot lines edited out as Beijing cracks down on Western media classics like

"Friends." We'll talk about that as well.



GORANI: Russian figure skater, Kamila Valieva has sealed her spot in the individual finals, though it's still unclear if she can be awarded an

Olympic medal at all, even if she wins. The 15-year-old got the top score in today's short program, an Arbitration Court is letting her skate despite

testing positive for a banned substance before the Games.

There will be no awards for any skaters if she makes the podium though. The International Olympic Committee says the investigation into her doping

charge would first have to be resolved and that could take weeks.

CNN's Selina Wang has more on the controversy.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Russian figure skater, Kamila Valieva took to the ice here in Beijing under the shadow of a doping scandal. Outrage

growing that she was allowed to compete despite testing positive for a banned substance less than two months before the Games.

She appeared to be struggling to hold back tears when she finished her performance, but there was loud applause for her before and after coming

from the Russian delegation and would appear to be the Russian media on the press side.

She walked off the ice clutching her stuffed animal as soon as she got off, a stark reminder that she's only 15 years old. She's a victim, many say, of

a system of Russian state sponsored doping. A strong message from the World Anti-Doping Agency President who tweeted, quote: "The doping of children is

evil and unforgivable and the doctors, coaches and other support personnel who are found to have provided performance enhancing drugs to minors should

be banned for life and personally, I also think that they should be in prison."

Earlier today, an IOC official said that Valieva had blamed the positive test on a mix up with her grandfather's medication. No further detail was

given on that. However, what we do know is that the drug she tested positive for, it is banned by the World Anti-Doping Association. It is

considered to be a performance enhancer that improves endurance and blood flow.

This is, as outrage is growing over Valieva's ability to continue to compete, some athletes calling it a mockery of clean competition.

Back to you.

GORANI: All right, Selina, thank you.

While the eyes of the world have been fixed on the Beijing Games, some TV fans in China have noticed what they're not seeing. Here is a scene from

the popular U.S. sitcom "Friends" as it originally aired.


ROSS GELLER, FICTIONAL CHARACTER, "FRIENDS": Carol is a lesbian. She's living with a woman named Susan.



GORANI: And here's the same scene as it now appears in China.


ROSS GELLER: Well, here's the deal.

JUDY GELLER: And you knew about this?


GORANI: Spot the difference? Some of China's top streaming platforms have enraged viewers by censoring out LGBTQ plotlines in popular international


The #FriendsCensored got over 54 million views in one night on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo and then it was deleted.

Joining me now from New York is Isaac Stone Fish. He's the CEO of Strategy Risks, a contributing columnist for "The Washington Post" and a columnist

at "Barron's."

His new book, "America Second: How America's Elites are Making China Stronger" is out now.

So what do you make of this reaction in China to the decision to censor "Friends." The word "lesbian" was obviously edited out in the Chinese


ISAAC STONE FISH, CEO, STRATEGY RISKS: This is an area that Chinese viewers are allowed to push back on. It's something that is sensitive, but

it's not that sensitive. It's not about deep elite politics or what happened in Tibet or Tiananmen Square. It's about a TV show that's been

very popular, and it is a nice sign that Chinese viewers want to see the show as it originally aired.

GORANI: And will it make a difference?

FISH: It might make a difference. These kinds of things are areas where regulators can be a lot more responsive to because China's National

Security doesn't hinge on whether or not certain characters in "Friends" know about a lesbian relationship.


GORANI: In your book, you argue that leading American businesses played a key role in advancing China's agenda in the United States. How did that

work? And why did it work so well?

FISH: For a long time, U.S. policy towards China and U.S. attitudes towards China was a stronger China is a stronger America and we can push

China to change and be more like us. And so American businesses believed or pretended to believe that doing well in China was doing well for the United


Unfortunately, as we now know, they were quite mistaken with that and many of the most major brands, companies like Walt Disney, Starbucks, Boeing

played a very large role in changing perceptions of China and the United States in ways that are pretty unrealistic compared to how the situation

actually is over there.

GORANI: So where do we go from here?

FISH: It's a great question. I think where we go from here is hopefully a much better understanding of the roles that U.S. companies have played in

doing things that are inimical to us values overseas. I think a lot of U.S. companies try to do their best in the United States about racial politics

and injustice, but -- and to be able to completely lose those values in overseas markets.

So a lot of commentators have very rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of their actions, and I think they're realizing that there are costs for


GORANI: Well, countries do the same thing, not just companies. What about Russia and China forming this alliance of convenience against the U.S. and

its allies geostrategically speaking, is that a lasting friendship, do you think?

FISH: I think convenience is the right word. I think Russia, which shares a very large border with China has a lot more to fear from China than it

does from the West and the United States. And Russia is quite worried about Chinese influence in Central Asia, and along its borders.

So I feel like this is something that, you know, could last this year, it could last for a few years, but as Russia focuses more on what's actually

in its own interests, I don't think they will maintain a close relationship with China.

GORANI: Also, China doesn't really have that much at stake really, economically, with Russia, compared to Western countries and compared to

the United States, they're much more intertwined with Western markets.

FISH: Exactly, and we are so much more intertwined with China than we are with Russia. We trade 25 times more with China than we do with Russia. So,

I think the other thing is, when we lump Russia and China together, it makes it seem like they're equals. But China is so much more powerful

economically and militarily and it is really where we should focus.

GORANI: It's interesting how you see China traditionally, a few decades ago that this wouldn't happen. But when I traveled to Middle Eastern

countries, or to Africa, or in other parts -- far-flung parts of the world, you see a lot of Chinese investment in infrastructure and mining of

minerals, et cetera. China seems to be really choosing to expand geographically outside of its own region a lot more these days.

Will that continue? Is that a necessity for its growth now?

FISH: I think it probably will continue and I think it's fascinating that we see this, while China has become so much more closed. You know, part of

that is COVID and its draconian response to COVID, but part of that is Beijing and Chairman Xi Jinping at the top of the Chinese Communist Party

really feeling the need to look inward, and to maintain sort of a fortress against the outside world.

So, it would be great if China actually were more globalized, but it's so inward focusing in ways that it has been damaging for Chinese people's

livelihoods and China's internationalization.

GORANI: And you mentioned how in the beginning, when U.S. companies got involved in China that there was a hope or a belief that was maybe naive at

the time, that the Chinese political system would change to resemble a Western system more, in fact, that didn't happen at all.

What could make the Chinese political system budge to open it up a little bit for the political class to accept dissent a little bit more?

FISH: So, I think the most likely way for that change to happen is from the very, very top. The Politburo Standing Committee or the Politburo, the

elite 25-member body that rules China, we have so little insight into what's going on among elite politics in China. But there may or may not be

dissent against Xi Jinping. There may or may not be voices that want to see a more democratic China because it suits their interests and I think a push

from the top is far more likely to create change than a push from the grassroots.

GORANI: But how does that -- I mean, it's not in the interest of someone at the top to push for change, right?

FISH: It might be in the interest of someone at the top to push Xi Jinping out of the way --

GORANI: Sorry, I've got to jump off because President Biden is speaking at the White House about Ukraine. Thank you so much. I want to thank our


Let's go live to the White House.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From the beginning of this crisis, I have been absolutely clear and consistent. The United States is

prepared, no matter what happens. We are ready with diplomacy, to engage in diplomacy with Russia and our allies and partners to improve stability and

security in Europe as a whole.

And we are ready to respond decisively to Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility. Though (sic) all of the events of the

last few weeks and months, this has been our approach. And it remains our approach now.

So today, I want to speak to the American people about the situation on the ground, the steps we've taken, the actions we're prepared to take and

what's at stake for us and the world. And how this may impact on us here at home.

For weeks now, together with our allies and partners, my administration has engaged in nonstop diplomacy. This weekend, I spoke again with President

Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy, to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States

and the nations of Europe, to address legitimate security concerns if that's his wish, their security concerns and ours.

President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage toward this end, along with our European allies and partners.

Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy. I agree. We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed.

And I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.

The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe. We're proposing new arms control measures,

new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures.

These measures apply to all parties, NATO and Russia alike. And we're willing to make practical, result-oriented steps that can advance our

common security. We will not sacrifice basic principles, though.

Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will

associate. But that still leaves plenty of room for diplomacy and for deescalation. That's the best way forward for all parties in our view.

We'll continue our diplomatic efforts in close consultation with our allies and our partners. As long as there is hope of diplomatic resolution that

prevents the use of force and avoids incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.

The Russian defense minister reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine. That would be good but we have not

yet verified that. We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases.

Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position. And the fact remains, right now, Russia has more than 150,000

troops encircling Ukraine and Belarus and along Ukraine's border. And an invasion remains distinctly possible.

That's why I've asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now, before it's too late to leave safely. It is why we have temporarily

relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in Western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border.

And we've been transparent with the American people and with the world about Russia's plans and the seriousness of the situation so that everyone

can see for themselves what is happening.

We've shared what we know and what we are doing about it. I'm going to be equally clear about what we are not doing.

The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia. Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We

do not, do not have plans to put them there as well.

We're not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia.

To the citizens of Russia, you are not our enemy. And I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine, a country and a people with

whom you share such deep ties of family, history and culture.


Seventy-seven years ago, our people fought and sacrificed side by side to end the worst war in history. World War II was a war of necessity but if

Russia attacks Ukraine it would be a war of choice or a war without cause or reason.

I say these things not to provoke but to speak the truth, because the truth matters. Accountability matters. If Russia does invade in the days and

weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense and the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense.

If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death

and destruction. Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound.

The United States and our allies and partners will respond decisively. The West is united and galvanized. Today, our NATO allies -- and the alliance

is as unified and determined as it has ever been.

And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience and universal appeal of our shared democratic values because

this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine.

It's about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own

destiny and the right of people to determine their own futures.

Where the principle that a country can't change its neighbors' borders by force, that's our vision. And to that end, I'm confident that vision, that

freedom will prevail.

If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world who oppose its aggression. The United States and our allies and partners around the world are ready to

impose powerful sanctions on export controls, including actions that did not, we did not pursue when Russia invaded Crimea in Eastern Ukraine in


We will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries. These measures are ready to go,

as soon and if Russia moves. We'll impose long-term consequences that will undermine Russia's ability to compete economically and strategically.

And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not


While we'll not send American servicemen to defend in Ukraine, we've supplied Ukrainian military the equipment to help defend themselves. We've

provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose.

And make no mistake: the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO

country is an attack against all of us. And the United States' commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct.

Already, in response to Russia's build-up of troops, I've sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO's eastern flank. Several of our allies have

also announced they'll add forces and capability to ensure deterrence and defense along NATO's eastern flank.

We'll also continue to conduct military exercises with our allies and partners to enhance defensive readiness. And if Russia invades, we'll take

further steps to reinforce our presence in NATO, reassurance for our allies and deter further aggression.

To be clear, if Russia decides to invade, that would also have consequences here at home. But the American people understand that defending democracy

and liberty is never without cost.

This is a cause that unites Republicans and Democrats. And I want to thank the leaders and the members of Congress of both parties, who forcefully

have spoken out in defense of our most basic, most bipartisan, most American principles.

I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices. So we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on

our own energy markets and offset raising prices.

We're coordinating with major energy consumers and producers. We're prepared to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide

relief at the gas pump.

And I'll work with Congress on additional measures, to help protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump. We are not seeking

direct confrontation with Russia, although I have been clear that --


-- if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully. And if Russia attacks the United States or our allies through asymmetric means,

like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies, our critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond.

We're moving in lockstep with our NATO allies and partners to deepen our collective defense against threats in cyberspace. Two paths are still open.

For the sake of historic responsibility, Russia and United States share, for global stability, for the sake of our common future, to choose


But let there be no doubt. If Russia commits this breach by invading Ukraine, responsible nations around the world will not hesitate to respond.

We do not stand for freedom, where it is at risk today, will surely pay a steeper price tomorrow. Thank you. I'll keep you informed.