Official Hopes Putin Makes 'Right Choice' on Ukraine, Warns of 'Body Bags'

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will not only face economic consequences, but that "body bags will come back to Moscow as well."

Sherman's comments on Thursday came as Western nations remained concerned about a potential Russian invasion. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine's border, and recently began military drills with its ally Belarus.

Official Hopes Putin Makes 'Right Choice'
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will not only face economic consequences, but that "body bags will come back to Moscow as well." Above, Putin attends a meeting with judges of Russia's arbitration courts and courts of general jurisdiction via teleconference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, on February 9, 2022. Alexey Nikolsky

Sherman said that there will be "dire consequences to the economy of Russia" if Putin acts, noting in a Thursday MSNBC interview the "extraordinary alliance that exists with all of Europe and the United States and countries around the world."

"Not only will that create consequences, but [Russian President] Vladimir Putin should understand that body bags will come back to Moscow as well. That the citizens of Russia will suffer because their economy will be completely devastated," Sherman stated.

"So this is a very stark choice for him, and in spite of all that is going on right now...we hope he makes the right choice," she added.

Earlier in the interview, Sherman noted that Russia's recent military exercises in Belarus are "certainly in our view an escalation, not a de-escalation."

"And to get to a diplomatic solution here that always happens best in an arena of de-escalation," she added.

"Vladimir Putin has a very stark choice to make. He can bring about a further invasion of Ukraine...which will include enormous consequences against him, against his government, against Russia for taking such action," Sherman continued.

"Or he can choose diplomacy and dialogue and ensure not only the security of Europe, but his security as well since Russia is part of Europe," the deputy secretary of state added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was "disappointed" following a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who warned of sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine, according to a report by The Guardian.

"I'm honestly disappointed that our conversation turned out like the mute with the deaf. We appear to be listening but we're not hearing anything. Our detailed explanations fell on unprepared ground," Lavrov said.

Western leaders have repeated that sanctions will be employed if Russia invades Ukraine.

In December, President Joe Biden said he told Putin that "if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions."

"We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies, and it will have to be a heavy price to pay for it," the president said.

Lavrov has said that sanctions over a Russian invasion would be "tantamount to breaking off relations" with the West.