Biden Addresses Russia-Ukraine Crisis Amid Conflicting Reports on De-Escalation

Headline Roundup February 15th, 2022

President Joe Biden issued an address on the Russia-Ukraine crisis Tuesday amid conflicting reports about Russia's plans to invade the former Soviet territory.

Biden said a Russian invasion is still "distinctly possible" and described how the U.S. and allies are "ready to impose powerful sanctions and export controls" in response to an invasion. He said that the U.S. wouldn't send troops to Ukraine, but had "supplied the Ukrainian military equipment to help them defend themselves." Biden also recalled how Russians and the U.S. fought together in World War II and said, "To the citizens of Russia, you are not our enemy." Putin said Tuesday that some Russian troops had recently withdrawn from the Ukrainian border, and that he was ready to re-enter security negotiations with the U.S. and NATO; Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. hadn't yet confirmed the troop withdrawal.

Coverage from right-rated outlets often highlighted how Biden said he would not send U.S. troops to defend Ukraine, with some framing that as encouragement for Russia to invade. Reports from left- and center-rated sources typically focused more on the lack of verification for Putin's claim about withdrawing troops, and framed Biden as having emphasized a path toward diplomacy and de-escalation.

From the Center

President Biden acknowledged reports on Tuesday that Russia has ordered the partial withdrawal of its troops near Ukraine's borders, but stressed that the U.S. has "not yet verified" the Kremlin's claims and that an invasion remains "distinctly possible."

Why it matters: Biden's update from the White House came at a critical moment in the crisis over Russia's massive military buildup, with U.S. officials warning that an invasion of Ukraine could take place as soon "at any moment."

Biden said Moscow's claims of a military pullback, which President Vladimir Putin acknowledged himself on Tuesday,...

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From the Right

In a White House address Tuesday, President Biden pledged to to “respond forcefully” if Russia targets Americans in any potential attack on Ukraine. He also promised to defend America’s NATO allies with the “full force of American power” amid the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe, though he also specified he would not send U.S. troops to defend Ukraine, which is not part of the alliance.

“Make no mistake, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power,” Biden said. “An attack against...

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From the Left

President Joe Biden on Tuesday welcomed Russian overtures toward ending a crisis in Ukraine, but reiterated that he was ready to respond with overwhelming economic sanctions if an invasion occurs.

“We should give diplomacy every chance to succeed,” Biden said in brief remarks from the East Room of the White House. “We will not sacrifice basic principles, though.”

Those principles, he said, include Ukraine’s sovereignty and its right to territorial integrity.

“The United States is prepared no matter what happens,” he said, noting that “an invasion remains distinctly possible.”

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