President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Russia and Ukraine from the White House in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

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 one NATO country is an attack against all of us.”

Biden clarified that the U.S. would not deploy American troops to Ukraine but would send support to the country’s military if a conflict breaks out.

“While I will not send American servicemen to fight in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military equipment to help them defend themselves,” Biden said in his remarks. “We provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose.”

GOP senators this afternoon announced that they would propose a severe sanctions package proposal to retaliate against Russia if it launches an incursion into Ukraine. Previous bipartisan negotiations on a different sanctions bill faltered this week, as the Senate approached an upcoming recess.

Amid Moscow’s claims that Russia had walked back its aggressive positioning on Ukraine’s border, Biden signaled optimism but said the U.S. has “not yet verified” these claims. He confirmed that U.S. analysts believe Russian forces still “remain very much in a threatening position.” Russia has amassed over 150,000 troops around Ukraine and in Belarus, Biden said.

He also encouraged Moscow to take the diplomatic route to de-escalation.

“To the citizens of Russia, you are not our enemy,” Biden said. “And I do not believe you want a bloody destructive war against Ukraine, a country and the people with whom you share such deep ties of family history and culture.”

“77 years ago our people fought and sacrificed side-by-side to end the worst war in history. World War II was a war of necessity. But if Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice — a war without cause or reason,” he added.

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