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Biden warns Putin US will defend ‘every inch’ of NATO land after Ukraine annexation

( NYPost )

President Biden on Friday warned Vladimir Putin that America and its allies are “fully prepared” to “defend every single inch of NATO territory” after the Russian tyrant claimed to annex four Ukrainian regions.

“Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying,” Biden said at the conclusion of remarks focused on Hurricane Ian. “Every inch.”

Biden also for the first time publicly declared the disabling of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea to be a “deliberate act of sabotage,” but stopped short of explicitly pointing the finger at the Kremlin.

Putin signed agreements Friday to absorb parts of Ukraine’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk province and Donetsk regions into Russia — after the Kremlin dubiously claimed that almost 100% of residents voted in favor of rule by Moscow.

Putin called for the referendum results to be treated “with respect” in a fiery Friday speech, saying also, “History has called us to a battlefield to fight for our people, for the grand historic Russia, for future generations.”

The Russian leader launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, purporting to protect the rights of Russian speakers after eight years of low-intensity fighting waged by pro-Russia separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk.

In 2014, while Biden was vice president, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, also following a disputed referendum, in the chaotic aftermath of a pro-western uprising in Kyiv.

“America and its allies are not going to — let me emphasize — are not going to be intimidated, are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats,” Biden said Friday.

“He’s not going to scare us or intimidate us. Putin’s actions are a sign he’s struggling.”

Biden ridiculed the Russian leader’s theatrical annexation event hours earlier and vowed to get to the bottom of leaks to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines, which threaten to cause an energy crisis in Western Europe.

“The sham routine he put on this morning that is showing the unity and people holding hands together — well, the United States is never going to recognize this,” Biden said. “And quite frankly, the world is not going to recognize it either. He can’t seize his neighbor’s territory and get away with it. It’s as simple as that. And we’re gonna stay the course.

“We’re gonna continue to provide military equipment so that Ukraine can defend itself and its territory and its freedom, including additional resources that the Congress is going to give me today of $13 billion more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves and fight back.”

In addition to the incoming tranche, Congress approved $40 billion in Ukraine war aid in May.

“I’ve been in close touch with our NATO allies who are united in our resolve to take on [Putin’s] aggression,” Biden said.

The president directly commented on the pipeline leaks after waving off a reporter’s question on Thursday.

“You also asked me earlier about pipelines and let me say this: It was a deliberate act of sabotage, and now the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies,” Biden said.

The president added that “we’re working with allies to get to the bottom of exactly what, precisely what happened” and then promised: “At the appropriate moment when things calm down, we’re going to be sending divers down to find out exactly what happened.”

“Just don’t listen to what Putin is saying,” Biden concluded. “What he’s saying, we know, is not true.”

The NATO alliance said Thursday that “currently available information indicates that [the pipeline leaks are] the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” but refrained from directly assigning blame.

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