White House says it’s nixing use of ‘imminent’ to describe Russian invasion
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that officials would no longer describe a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine as “imminent” because it implies that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision on whether to invade.
“We stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew that President Putin had made a decision,” Psaki told reporters during a briefing.
Psaki noted that the “vast majority” of times she had talked about an invasion she has said Putin “could invade at any time.”
“That’s true,” Psaki said. “We still don’t know that he’s made a decision.”
During a briefing last week, Psaki described a potential invasion as “imminent.”
The Biden administration’s rhetoric on Russian aggression has been criticized by Ukrainian leaders, who argued last week that the U.S. was stoking panic and harming the country’s economy.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told NPR in an interview Tuesday that officials were not saying that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.
“We’re still pursuing a diplomatic solution to give the Russians an off-ramp. Our hope is that this will work and that Putin will understand that war and confrontation is not the path that he wants to follow, but he wants to take a path at diplomacy,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“We’re giving them an opportunity to discuss their security concerns, Europe’s security concerns and certainly Ukraine’s security concerns. So we’ll keep working on that,” she said.
President Biden and his team have been working to ward off a potential Russian invasion over the past several weeks as Russia has amassed 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border and conducted military drills in Belarus.
The U.S. and Russia clashed at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council earlier this week, during which Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of threatening European security.
Russia has demanded that NATO curtail its footprint and commit to not allowing Ukraine to join the alliance, which the U.S. and NATO have rejected.
While U.S. officials have tried to pursue the diplomatic route, they have also threatened harsh economic penalties should Russia invade Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon also announced that it would deploy 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland and Romania to help shore up NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression.
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