The White House wants to “reduce and de-escalate the rhetoric” after Putin’s nuclear deterrent.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is seen in Washington, DC in this file photo dated February 23, 2022 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Biden administration wants to “reduce rhetoric and de-escalate” after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s deterrent forces — which include nuclear weapons — to be placed on high alert, the White House said Monday.

“We’ve seen this pattern of President Putin over the past several months and even before, where he fabricates the threat to justify more aggressive action,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC.

“Russians – including President Putin as Russia’s leader – have pledged to take steps to reduce the nuclear threat,” she added. “Everyone knows this is not a war that can be won.”

Psaki said the US had its “own preparations” and “its own capabilities and capacities to defend the United States” but had not changed the alert level.

“We haven’t changed our own warnings, and we haven’t changed our own assessment in that regard, but we also have to monitor his own use of threats very closely,” she said. “What we want to do now is reduce the rhetoric and de-escalate.”

The administration also reiterated 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 establishment of a no-fly zone by the US military “would essentially mean that the US military would shoot down planes, Russian planes,” Psaki said. “This is definitely an escalation that would potentially bring us to a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia.

US President Joe Biden will address the situation in Ukraine in 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 oppose Russian aggression, to stand up to President Putin, to impose crippling sanctions, that’s going to be part of what the people will hear in the speech. That wouldn’t have been the case three months ago,” she said.

“Looking back on history,” she continued, “President Obama spoke during the worst financial crisis of our lives. President Bush made a speech shortly after the worst terrorist attack on our homeland in history. It’s always about expressing how you will run the country.”

She said there would be new policy proposals in the speech.


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