Today, at the White House:
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, February 2, 2022
FEBRUARY 02, 2022 PRESS BRIEFINGS
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:35 P.M. EST
Q Senator Hawley was out with a statement today saying that the — that the President should, sort of, take NATO membership off the table for Ukraine and that it wasn’t in U.S. interests to do that. Do you think that sort of rhetoric or, sort of, position by a U.S. senator right now is helpful in this — in this showdown between the West and Russia?
MS. PSAKI: Well, if you are just digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding, bipartisan American values, which is to stand up for the sovereignty of countries — like Ukraine, but others: their right to choose their own alliances and, also, to stand against, very clearly, the efforts or attempts or potential attempts by any country to invade and take territory of another country.
That applies to Senator Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.
Q Thank you, Jen. On the troops that were deployed today —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
Q — you’ve said that they aren’t going to be fighting; they’ll be there to offer support. Can you offer any details about exactly what they will be doing there?
And also, about the distribution to these specific countries — why these three places? And why the 2,000 versus 1,000?
MS. PSAKI: Sure, well, what — to be clear, they’re not going to Ukraine to fight, right?
Q Correct. Right.
MS. PSAKI: In a — so, I know that’s what you were asking, but just for clarity for the transcript purposes.
So, this — our effort and our objective here has been to ensure we are ready for every contingency, and force posture increases as part of that preparedness. It’s to reassure our Allies — to whom, as I’ve said, we have a sacred obligation.
This force — or these forces who have gone are trained and equipped for a variety of missions: to deter aggression, and to reassure and defend our Allies.
In terms of why the specific numbers, I’d really point you the Department of Defense, who makes the recommendations and, ultimately, you know, proposes for the President to sign off.
I would note that a number of our NATO Allies have recently announced troop movements as well, similar to what was announced this morning — so, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands — of their intent to deploy additional forces to reinforce NATO’s easter flank — eastern flank as well. So, this is a reflection of our robust capabilities and our ability to distribute them across Europe, but it’s also consistent with a lot of — what a lot of our NATO partners are doing.
Q John Kirby said that the Pentagon has not ruled out deploying additional troops. Under what conditions would that happen?
MS. PSAKI: These, again, are — these decisions were based on close consultations with our partners in the region; the countries where these troops have been deployed to, of course; and also, the escalatory actions by Russia. But, you know, obviously the President is meeting with his national security team on nearly a daily basis and will make evaluations as needed.
“…That applies to Senator Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders…”