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Vice President Harris Acknowledges 'Real Possibility Of War' In Europe

Vice President Harris told reporters that an invasion — and subsequent sanctions on Russia — would likely have costs for Americans, as well.
Vice President Kamala Harris.
Posted at 8:01 PM, Feb 20, 2022

Acknowledging "the real possibility of war," Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up a weekend of outreach to European allies with a push to bolster the West's resolve in confronting Moscow with crippling sanctions as increasingly dire signs suggest Russia's Vladimir Putin plans to order an invasion of Ukraine.

In a burst of diplomacy at the annual Munich Security Conference,  Vice President Harris tried to make the case to American allies that rapidly escalating tensions on the Ukraine-Russian border meant European security was under "direct threat" and there should be unified support for economic penalties if the Kremlin invades its neighbor.

"We're talking about the potential for war in Europe. I mean, let's really take a moment to understand the significance of what we're talking about,"  Vice President Harris told reporters before her return to Washington on Sunday evening. Europe, she said, might be at its most perilous moment since the end of World War II.

"It's been over 70 years, and through those 70 years ... there has been peace and security," she said. "We are talking about the real possibility of war in Europe."

President Joe Biden was to meet with his national security team later Sunday in Washington to discuss the unfolding developments.  Vice President Harris planned to participate while flying back from Germany. Before leaving Munich, Harris and her team briefed them about her meetings and exchanges at the conference. 

President Biden is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting with Group of Seven leaders on 

During a series of choreographed meetings and a major address at the security conference,  Vice President Harris told global leaders they were at a "defining" and "decisive" moment for the world.

 Vice President Harris met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the leaders of the three Baltic nations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

President Biden sent Vice President Harris to Germany with straightforward marching orders to amplify his concern that a Russian invasion was highly likely and make clear to European allies that they must be ready to impose the toughest sanctions Moscow has ever seen.

Vice President Harris told reporters that an invasion — and subsequent sanctions on Russia — would likely have costs for Americans, as well.

"When America stands for principles, and all of the things that we hold dear, it requires sometimes for us to put ourselves out there in a way that maybe we will incur some cost,"  Vice President Harris said. "In this situation, that may relate to energy costs."

The vice president's appearance in Munich was largely overshadowed by President Biden's declaration from the White House late Friday that he was "convinced" that Putin had decided to invade. And her message of unity in Europe in the face of Russian aggression was overtaken by Zelenskyy.

Vice President Harris said she wouldn't "second guess" Zelenskyy's "desires for his country" and she stood by the U.S. decision to hold off on preemptive sanctions. "The purpose of the sanctions has always been and continues to be deterrence," she said.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.