The Biden administration wants to “reduce the rhetoric and deescalate” after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s deterrence forces – which include nuclear arms – be placed on high alert, the White House said Monday.
“We've seen this pattern from President Putin over the course of the last several months and even before then, where he manufactures the threat in order to justify a greater aggressive action,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC.
“The Russians – President Putin included as the leader of Russia – have committed to taking steps to reduce nuclear threats," she added. “Everybody knows that that is not a war that can be won."
Psaki said the US has its “own preparations” and “own ability and capacity to defend the United States,” but has not changed alert levels.
“We have not changed our own alerts, and we have not changed our own assessment in that front, but we also need to be very clear eyed about his own use of threats,” she said. “What we want to do right now is reduce the rhetoric and deescalate.”
The administration is also doubling down on the decision not to use US troops to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, calling it “not a good idea” and "not something the President wants to do."
The implementation of a no-fly zone by the US military “would essentially mean the US military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes," Psaki said. “That is definitely escalatory that would potentially put us into a place where we're in a military conflict with Russia.
US President Joe Biden will talk about the situation in Ukraine during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, she confirmed.
Biden would talk about “the fact that the President has built a coalition of countries around the world to stand up to Russian aggression, to stand up to President Putin, to put in place crippling sanctions, that will be a part of what people will hear in the speech. That wouldn't have been the case three months ago,” she said.
“If we look back at history,” she continued, “President Obama gave a speech during the worst financial crisis of our lifetime. President Bush gave a speech shortly after the worst terrorist attack on our homeland ever. It's always about expressing how you're going to lead the country.”
She said there would be new policy proposals in the speech.