PRESIDENT Joe Biden said the US has “not yet verified” Russia’s claim that some of its forces have withdrawn from the Ukraine border, adding an invasion of Ukraine remains a distinct possibility.
Mr Biden made the remarks at the White House hours after Russia announced that some units participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s borders would begin returning to their bases.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Tuesday said Russia was ready for talks with the United States and Nato on military transparency, missile deployment limits and other security issues.
Mr Biden continued to express scepticism about Russia’s intentions.
Mr Biden warned again that if Russia invades Ukraine, the US “will rally the world to oppose its aggression”.
The president also acknowledged the likelihood that US and allied sanctions on Russia in retaliation for an invasion would have significant blowback on the American economy, including possible price hikes and disruption to the nation’s energy supply.
“The American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost,” Mr Biden said.
“I will not pretend this will be painless.”
He said the administration was working proactively to try to pre-empt supply issues by working with energy producers and shippers on contingency plans, and said he would work with Congress on unspecified “additional measures to protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump”.