But it was clear that Mr Biden’s press conference had disrupted the alliance.
Ulrich Speck of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin said Mr Biden used the kind of language allies speak to each other. “But that’s not how you talk to the Russians, because when you talk to the press, you talk to the Russians,” he said. “When it comes to strengthening Allied unity, this was an unforced mistake.”
At the same time, he said, the allies came together stronger and faster than in 2014, and a NATO of 30 countries and a European Union of 27 “is never perfectly united, we are not an autocracy, there are always differences and in public.”
But there was significant unity “demonstrated in the language of the alliance,” he said. Mr Biden’s comments may have “not been allowed to happen, but they will not undermine the Western position.”
The European Union believes that its main strength lies in economic sanctions, which are an active subject of intense and secret discussion, senior European officials say. Heavy sanctions will come if Russia does not respond to diplomacy, but they will inevitably be aligned with what Russia is actually doing.
In its new move on Thursday, the Biden administration said it will impose sanctions on four people. Two of them, Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn, are members of the Ukrainian parliament and have used their influence to undermine Ukraine’s leadership in coordinating Russia’s security service, the Biden administration said. The other two, Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovich, are former Ukrainian officials who have worked with Russian intelligence agents to conduct influence operations to build support for Ukraine to cede Crimea to Russia.
Senior Biden administration officials said the sanctions were an example of the wide range of actions the United States is willing to take to inflict economic costs on Russia if it invades Ukraine. They said they were willing to impose additional sanctions on those acting on behalf of Russia against Ukraine.
“The United States is taking action to expose and counter Russia’s dangerous and threatening campaign of influence and disinformation in Ukraine,” said Wally Adeyemo, the deputy treasury secretary. “We are determined to take steps to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions.”