“The fact is that gas is not currently flowing through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” he told reporters. “Which means that it is not operating. Which means it’s not leverage for Putin.
“Indeed, it is leverage for the West because if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk and invade Ukraine,” he added.
Sullivan said that during secure virtual talks with Russian President Putin Tuesday, President Biden made it clear the U.S. and its western allies would take direct action to counter Kremlin aggression if it invades Ukraine.
“As we pursue diplomatic channels we will also prepare for all contingencies, just as we have been doing for weeks now,” he told reporters, “including through the preparation of specific responses to Russian escalation should they be required – specific, clear, robust responses.”
Sullivan, who described the call as “useful,” would not go into what specific U.S. responses would look like but said increasing military presence in the region and divisive economic measures could be taken if the Kremlin moves on Ukraine.
When pressed by reporters on what measures the Biden administration would take to better deter Russia from invading Ukraine, like it did in 2014, Sullivan said different action would be pursued.
“I will look you in the eye and tell you as President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now,” Sullivan said.
The national security advisor said the administration still does not believe that Putin has made up his mind on whether he will re-invade the former soviet nation.
Ukraine is not a NATO member nation, but countries like Poland and Germany could see an influx of U.S. troops if Russia takes military action across its border.
Sullivan said the president immediately spoke with leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom following the call with Putin and coordinated action by NATO members was assured if need be.
The White House said it will be working closely with NATO allies until Russia reverses its behavior along the Ukrainian border.