The United States will not put US troops in the air to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, according to the US ambassador to the United Nations.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that the Biden administration “has made clear” the US will not “put boots on the ground.”
“We’re not going to put American troops in danger. That means we’re not going to put American troops in the air as well, but we will work with the Ukrainians to give them the ability to defend themselves,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield also said that the US has “not taken anything off the table” when asked about targeting the Russian energy sector with sanctions, which so far has not happened.
“We have not taken anything off the table. We’re continuing to look at this,” she told Bash.
“We’re ramping up as the Russians ramp up, so there’s more to come. And while energy is not in this current announcement, it doesn’t mean it’s off the table, but we also want to do everything we can to protect our own economy from the impact of this,” the ambassador added.
The comments come as the US continues to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, levying harsh sanctions on the country in an effort to wreak havoc on its economy.
On Saturday, the White House joined the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada in announcing that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world.
US and European officials have also discussed targeting the Russian Central Bank with sanctions, according to two people familiar with the talks, a step without precedent for an economy of Russia’s size. Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday did not give a precise timing for when sanctions will hit the Russian Central Bank, but said, “This is happening very, very quickly.”
The ambassador also told Bash that trying Russians for war crimes in a military tribunal was also “on the table.”
“I think everything is on the table as we move forward. As we’re dealing with the situation today, we are continuing to address all of those issues,” said when asked about the possibility of using a military tribunal.
Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes in going after civilian targets and has called for Moscow to face a military tribunal. Russia says its forces are only targeting military installations and are not striking residential areas.
Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert
Thomas-Greenfield also condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his country’s nuclear forces on high alert, saying on Sunday that he “is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable.”
“We have to continue to condemn his actions in … the strongest possible way,” she told CBS News. “Putin has tried every means possible to actually put fear in the world in terms of his action, and it just means that we have to ramp up our efforts here at the United Nations and elsewhere to hold him accountable.”
Putin’s decision is “yet another escalatory and totally unnecessary step,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN.
“At every step of this conflict, Putin has manufactured threats to justify more aggressive actions – he was never under threat from Ukraine or from NATO, which is a defensive alliance that will not fight in Ukraine,” the official said. “The only reason his forces face a threat today is because they invaded a sovereign country, and one without nuclear weapons.”
Putin’s decision was also criticized on Sunday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who told ABC News that it was part of a wider pattern of unprovoked escalation and “manufactured threats” from the Kremlin.
“This is all a pattern from President Putin,” she said. “We have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we’re seeing here from President Putin.”
This story has been updated with additional reaction and background information.
CNN’s Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.