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White House responds to heightening Russia-Ukraine tensions

Press secretary Jen Psaki
Posted at 8:29 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 12:52:17-05

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday briefed reporters as President Joe Biden faces a growing number of crises at home and abroad.

Domestically, in addition to facing the record-breaking spread of COVID-19 and a stalled legislative agenda, Biden is now facing criticism from opponents after he cursed at a Fox News reporter during an on-camera appearance Monday.

Inflation

While taking part in a White House Competition Council meeting on Monday, Biden was asked by Fox News correspondent Peter Doocey if he thought rapidly rising inflation rates were a "political liability."

"No, that's a great asset — more inflation," Biden said sarcastically. "What a stupid son of a (expletive)."

Doocey later said that Biden called him later Monday night to apologize for the explicit comment.

Russia-Ukraine tensions

Tuesday Psaki was asked how the decision to deploy U.S. troops might be made as tensions between Russia and Ukraine ramp up. Psaki said a decision would be made alongside the input of NATO allies, but didn't elaborate much further.

Psaki said, "The aggressive behavior here is on the part of the Russians," and called the U.S.-NATO alliance a defensive one.

Ukraine’s leaders are seeking to reassure the nation that a feared invasion from neighboring Russia is not imminent. Those comments came even as they acknowledged the threat is real and received a shipment of American military equipment to shore up their defenses.

Russia has denied it is planning an assault. But, it has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks, leading the United States and its NATO allies to rush to prepare for a possible war. Several rounds of high-stakes diplomacy have failed to yield any breakthroughs.

NATO said it was bolstering its deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, and the U.S. ordered 8,500 troops on higher alert.

North Korea

The U.S. also faces a continued threat from North Korea, which again conducted missile tests on Tuesday in the fifth launch this month.