Biden says he won't send troops to rescue Americans in Ukraine if Russia attacks: 'That's a world war'

Biden says he won't send troops to rescue Americans in Ukraine if Russia attacks: 'That's a world war'
President Joe Biden.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • President Joe Biden issued a stark warning to Americans who remain in Ukraine on Thursday.
  • In an NBC interview, he urged them to leave the country, which faces a possible Russian invasion.

President Joe Biden on Thursday urged Americans that are still in Ukraine to immediately depart the country as it faces the looming threat of a possible Russian invasion.

In a sit-down interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, the president issued a weighty warning, saying the United States would not send troops to rescue remaining American citizens in Ukraine if Russia attacks.

"It's not like we're dealing with a terrorist organization. We're dealing with one of the largest armies in the world," Biden said. "It's a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly."

The president told NBC there is no scenario in which he would send US troops in to rescue fleeing Americans if Russia launches a military offensive against Ukraine, noting the risk of US and Russian military personnel being pulled into conflict.

"That's a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another," he said. "We're in a very different world than we've ever been."


Biden's message Thursday was decidedly more urgent than similar statements he made earlier this week, when he said it would be "wise" for American citizens in Ukraine to leave the country.

"I'd hate see them get caught in a crossfire if in fact they did invade," Biden said during a Monday press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House.

The State Department on Thursday issued a separate advisory warning the US "will not be able to evacuate US citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine." The statement also said that normal consulate services, which typically includes aid to American citizens attempting to leave the country, would be "severely impacted."

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that Russia had almost completed preparations for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine that could result in 50,000 civilian casualties.

The report warned that such an attack could also devastate the Ukrainian government in Kyiv and potentially trigger a humanitarian refugee crisis.


US military intelligence suggests Putin intends to attack in the coming weeks, though the size and scale of such an offensive are unclear. US officials believe the Kremlin may be preparing to launch an assault on Kyiv, an invasion that could be the largest military offensive in Europe since World War II, according to The Post.

Biden told NBC on Thursday that even if Putin is "foolish enough to go in," he believes the Russian leader is "smart enough not to, in fact, do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens."

Biden confirmed to Holt that he has warned Putin of the consequences that would result if Americans are negatively affected by a Russian incursion into Ukraine.