In a Tuesday speech, President Joe Biden addressed some of the latest developments regarding the Russian military build-up threatening Ukraine. Claims have circulated within conservative echo chambers that Biden has somehow been pushing for war in Europe, which is simply not legitimately supported by the facts — consistently, Biden and his administration have pushed for diplomacy in efforts to ease the stand-off, while certain Republican leaders in the U.S. have opted for essentially parroting pro-Putin talking points. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), for instance, pushed the prospect of dropping longstanding U.S. support for Ukraine eventually joining NATO — an alliance that Russian officials want to see Ukraine kept out of.
From the beginning of this crisis, I have been clear and consistent: The United States is prepared no matter what happens.
We are ready for diplomacy to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole.
And we are ready to respond decisively if Russia attacks Ukraine.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 15, 2022
In his Tuesday speech, Biden reiterated the U.S. push for diplomacy, while simultaneously outlining the seriousness with which U.S. officials are approaching the possibility of further Russian action. The announcement came from Russia this week that certain military personnel were leaving the build-up on Ukraine’s border, but Biden indicated in his speech that the veracity of these claims of a draw-down remained under investigation by U.S. officials. As Biden summarized:
‘From the beginning of this crisis, I have been absolutely clear and consistent: the United States is prepared no matter what happens. We are ready with diplomacy, to be engaged with diplomacy with Russia and our allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole. And we are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility.’
President Biden's speech today wasn't necessarily because there was any major update (given he said US hasn't verified Russian claims of a partial drawdown) but more because he wanted to speak directly to the American people, Jen Psaki says.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 15, 2022
Biden also provided further details about his recent exchanges with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to whom he spoke over the phone this past weekend. Per Biden, he made “clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy, to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns, if that’s his wish.” Biden added that “we should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed, and I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.” Biden cited examples including new weapons control agreements between interests including NATO and Russia.
Biden: "The Russian defense minister reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine. That would be good….We have not yet verified that…Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position."
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 15, 2022
That said, Biden insisted that “nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate. But that still leaves plenty of room for diplomacy and for de-escalation… As long as there is hope of diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.” As for further specifics, Biden said that “the United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia,” explaining that neither the U.S. nor the alliance have missiles in Ukraine or have any intentions of putting them in the country. Check out Biden’s remarks below: