Biden makes direct appeal to citizens of Russia, warns against 'bloody destructive war'

The president appealed to Russia's shared military mission with US during World War II

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President Biden spoke directly to the people of Russia during a Tuesday address on the situation regarding Ukraine, warning against what he said would be a "bloody, destructive war."

"To the citizens of Russia, you are not our enemy," Biden said. "And I do not believe you want a bloody destructive war against Ukraine, a country and the people with whom you share such deep ties of family history and culture."

President Joe Biden warned a war with Ukraine would be a "self-inflicted wound" for Russia.

President Joe Biden warned a war with Ukraine would be a "self-inflicted wound" for Russia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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The president appealed to Russia's shared military mission with the U.S. during World War II, arguing that war was a "war or necessity" but an invasion of Ukraine would be a "war without cause."

"If Russia attacks Ukraine it would be a war of choice or a war without cause or reason," Biden said. "I say these things not to provoke, but to speak the truth. Because the truth matters."

Biden also spent much of his address warning Russia about the consequences of an invasion of Ukraine, warning a war with Ukraine would be a "self-inflicted wound" for the country.

"If Russia attacks Ukraine, it'll be met with overwhelming international condemnation," Biden said. "The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction. Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool)

"The United States and our allies and partners will respond decisively. The West is united and galvanized," Biden continued. "If Russia proceeds we will rally the world who opposes its aggression. The United States and our allies and partners around the world are ready to impose powerful sanctions on export controls… we will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries." 

But Biden also sounded an optimist tone that diplomacy could still be an avenue to end the standoff, though he said the U.S. has not been able to verify reports of Russia moving some troops away from the Ukrainian border.

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President Joe Biden said the U.S. has not been able to verify reports of Russia moving some troops away from the Ukrainian border.

President Joe Biden said the U.S. has not been able to verify reports of Russia moving some troops away from the Ukrainian border. (Ken Cedeno/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage" in a diplomatic solution, Biden said. "We should give 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," the president continued while warning that the U.S. was not willing to "sacrifice basic principles" during negotiations.