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Biden blasts Putin, Russia over annexations, pipeline ‘disinformation’

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not intimidate or scare off the U.S. and its allies from helping Ukraine, President Biden said Friday in a public response to Putin’s ceremony earlier in the day that carried out an annexation of Ukrainian territory.

The annexation move was declared illegal by Ukraine, the U.S., many of its Western allies and the United Nations by officials who said it violated Ukrainian and international law.

“America and its allies are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats. He’s not going to scare us or intimidate us,” Biden said from the White House following remarks addressing the federal response to Hurricane Ian.

Calling Putin’s annexation ceremony in the Kremlin a “sham routine,” Biden committed to providing Ukraine with military equipment and reinforced NATO’s resolve to “to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch.” 

“Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch,” the president emphasized.

Biden made his remarks following House passage of a short-term government funding bill that includes nearly $13 billion in assistance for Ukraine.

The president further said he’s in touch with allies over a coordinated effort to impose sanctions on “anyone who provides political or economic support to Russia’s fraudulent claims.”

Putin’s move to annex Ukrainian territory is a dramatic escalation seen as a response to domestic criticism of his flailing war. Putin has also used bellicose rhetoric describing Russia’s nuclear capabilities, raising fears that the Russian leader will take the unprecedented step of using the weapons.  

“Putin’s actions are a sign he’s struggling,” Biden said. “The sham referenda he carried out and this routine he put on … the sham routine that he put on this morning showing the unity and his people holding hands together — well, the United States is never going to recognize this and frankly the world is not going to recognize it either.”

Biden also spoke to mysterious explosions on two natural gas pipelines that transit from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, describing the situation as “a deliberate act of sabotage.”

Europe has vowed investigations but so far withheld assigning blame, although experts point to Putin and Russia as the main suspect.

Russia has denied responsibility and sought to cast blame on the U.S., a strategy which Biden described as “pumping out disinformation and lies.”

“We’ll work with our allies to get to the bottom, exactly, precisely, [of] what happened,” the president said.

“At my direction, I’ve already begun to help our allies enhance protection of critical infrastructure and at the appropriate moment, we’re going to send divers down to find out exactly what happened,” he added.

Biden continued, “We don’t know that yet, exactly, but just don’t listen to what Putin is saying. What he’s saying we know is not true.”

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