The US is ready to respond "decisively" to a Russian attack on Ukraine which is still very much a possibility, President Joe Biden has said, urging Moscow to step back from the brink of war.
Providing an update on the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday, Biden said the United States was prepared no matter what happens.
"We are ready with diplomacy -- to be engaged in diplomacy with Russia and our Allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole. And we are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility," he said.
"An invasion remains distinctly possible. That's why I've asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it's too late to leave safely. It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border," Biden said as his Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin left for a trip to the region amidst an escalating crisis in Europe.
Biden said the US is still open for diplomacy to resolve the issue while stressing that more than 150,000 Russian troops remain on the Ukrainian border.
"The Russian defence ministry reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine. That would be good, but we have not yet verified that. We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases. Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position," he said.
Biden said if Russia attacks Ukraine in the days or weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine and the strategic cost for Russia will be immense.
"If Russia attacks Ukraine, it'll be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction," he said.
"And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us," he asserted.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it has plans to attack Ukraine but demanded that NATO never admit Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations as members and the military alliance roll back troop deployments in former Soviet bloc nations.
Drawing a parallel with World War II, Biden said, "World War II was a war of necessity. But if Russia attacked Ukraine, it would be a war of choice or a war without cause or reason."
"I say these things not to provoke but to speak the truth. Because the truth matters, accountability matters. If Russia does invade in the days and weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense," the US president said.
Biden said the United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia.
"Ukraine is not threatening Russia. Neither the US nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not have plans to put them there as well," he said.
The US president also ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine.
"While I will not send American servicemen to fight in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military the equipment to help them defend themselves. We provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose," he said.
Biden said the West is united and galvanised.
"Today, our NATO allies and the alliance are as unified and determined as it has ever been. And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience, and universal appeal of our shared democratic values. Cause this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine," he said.
Biden said if Russia proceeds, The US will rally the world to oppose its "aggression".
"We will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries. These measures are ready to go as soon if Russia moves. We'll impose long-term consequences that will undermine Russia's ability to compete economically and strategically," he said.
"And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen," he added.