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White House won't rule out any options in defense of Ukraine

WashingtonExaminer
WashingtonExaminer
 2021-12-03

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The White House declined to rule anything out in response to Russian advances along Ukraine's border, including some form of military action.

The Biden administration is preparing "for a range of options," press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. Asked whether this could include a military response, Psaki declined to say.

"I'm not going to outline them in more detail from here," she told reporters.

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"We can't predict from here what President Putin's calculus is or what the Russians' calculus is," Psaki said. "We saw what they did in 2014 [and] we've seen what they're doing on the border."

Russian forces have amassed along Ukraine's eastern borders and have annexed Crimea in addition to at least two separatist-held regions in its eastern part, stoking concerns that it is preparing to invade Ukraine.

President Joe Biden said Friday that he was compiling measures to halt a potential incursion. He also said he was in "constant contact" with Ukrainian leaders and European allies over the threats.

This week, the Biden administration's top diplomat warned that an invasion would prompt "high-impact" sanctions targeting Russia.

"We've seen this playbook before," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, referring to Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that any military action in response to a Russian incursion should be undertaken "as a part of an international community."

Economic sanctions are one option in "a range of tools," Psaki said.

Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to speak soon, with Psaki telling reporters that the call would be an opportunity "to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric about the military buildup."

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov had said the call would take place next week and that a date had been agreed upon but would not be announced until details of the talks were confirmed.

Russia is seeking legally binding security guarantees against NATO expansion and for the military alliance to stay out of Ukraine.

Asked whether the United States was prepared to commit to Russia's requests, Psaki said some decisions weren't up to Washington.

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"NATO member countries decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia. And that is how the process has always been and how it will proceed," she said. "It's important to remember where the provocative action is coming from. … It's not the United States [and] it's not Ukraine."

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