Russia-Ukraine Live Updates: Psaki Responds to Sen. Hawley's Remarks on Troops

Live Updates
  • President Biden is deploying 3,000 U.S. troops to Poland, Germany and Romania to deter Russian aggression and support NATO allies. The majority will deploy within days
  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned any military confrontation with its neighbor Russia would amount to "a full-scale" war in Europe
  • Russian President Putin accuses the U.S. of ignoring his country's security demands and of using Ukraine as a 'tool' to contain its development
  • The U.S. will no longer use the word "imminent" to classify a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was sending an unintended message
  • Russia shows no sign of de-escalation as more than 100,000 troops remain near the Ukrainian border
Russia, Western, Military, District, new, artillery
A Msta-S-M2 self-propelled howitzer is seen under the command of Russia's Western Military District, which borders Ukraine, as additional units were sent to artillery forces on February 1. Russian Ministry of Defense

Psaki responds to Senator Hawley's remarks on troops

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to one of Senator Josh Hawley's comments during Wednesday's press briefing about Ukraine's possible NATO membership and his belief that sending troops to Europe was a bad idea.

"If you are digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding, bipartisan American values," Psaki said.

Senator Hawley spoke openly about his beliefs that the recent troop deployment to Eastern and Central Europe is a bad idea and mistake.

"Bad idea. It's a mistake. It's a mistake to send more American troops to Europe at this time," Hawley told reporters.

Hawley's comments come just after the Biden administration announced 3,000 troops will be deployed to Europe to bolster the "deterrence and defensive posture" of NATO amid the backdrop of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. calls out Russian disinformation

As diplomatic efforts continue to stop Russian attacks on the ground, the United States has also been fighting back against Russian disinformation and propaganda.

The State Department calls disinformation "one of the Kremlin's most important and far-reaching weapons."

The Biden administration made a "strategic decision" to call out disinformation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. Those efforts include videos separating fact from fiction.

The State Department shared a video Wednesday on social media, clarifying that Russia, not Ukraine, is the aggressor in the ongoing conflict.

The video "Truth vs. Lie" lists examples of Russia's aggression against Ukraine since 2014, including the 2014 invasion, occupying Crimea and now amassing more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border.

"We see a significant effort to push propaganda against Ukraine, NATO, and the United States," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

"That includes malign social media operations, the use of overt and covert online proxy media outlets, the infection of disinformation into TV and radio programming, hosting conferences designed to influence attendees into falsely believing that Ukraine – not Russia – is at fault for heightened tensions in the region, and the leveraging of cyber operations to deface media outlets and conduct 'hack and release' operations – that is, hacking, and then releasing private data and communications."

The State Department has additionally created a Fact vs. Fiction sheet, listing "Russian lies" and the truth.

Russians are preparing written response, State Department says

According to State Department Spokesman Ned Price, the Russians are preparing a written response to the U.S. negotiations to find common grounds in an agreement to keep the peace and avoid a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"That is a response that will be reviewed and hopefully approved by President Putin," State Department Spokesman Ned Price said during a press briefing Wednesday.

"It is our hope that there will be an opportunity following the written response for diplomatic engagement," Price said.

Putin and Johnson discuss NATO, Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a phone call Wednesday to discuss Ukraine and the growing tension in Europe.

Johnson expressed his "deep concern" with Russia's "hostile activity" on the Ukraine border and emphasized "the need to find a way forward which respects both Ukraine's territorial integrity and right to self-defense," according to a statement from Downing Street.

On the call, Putin outlined his policy approaches, including "Kiev's systematic sabotage of the Minsk Agreements" and NATO's "reluctance to adequately address Russian concerns," according to the Russian Embassy to the United Kingdom.

While Johnson defended NATO policies, Putin said the alliance's open-door policy "contradicts the fundamental principle of indivisible security."

Overall, the leaders "agreed that aggravation was in no one's interest" and committed to further diplomatic dialogue to ease tensions and find a peaceful resolution.

Five countries establish fund for Ukraine

Five countries, including the United States, launched a partnership fund to support Ukrainian communities against Russian aggression.

The United States, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland joined the United Kingdom-led initiative called "Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine."

The United States plans to contribute up to $10 million through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over a three-year period.

"This initiative... will work alongside Ukrainian government ministries and local communities to improve the delivery of public services and to generate economic opportunities in eastern and southern Ukraine, the areas of the country most affected by Russian aggression," USAID wrote in a statement Wednesday.

"The impact of the new fund will build upon USAID's overall support for an independent, democratic, prosperous, and healthy Ukraine."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed his gratitude to the contributing countries.

"Grateful to Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and USA for establishing the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine, a UK-led multi-year and multi-donor programme worth up to £35m," Kuleba tweeted.

"Timely support for Ukraine's resilience and communities in our southern and eastern regions."

U.S. no longer classifies Russian invasion threat as "imminent"

The U.S. will no longer use the word "imminent" to classify a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the word was sending an unintended message.

"We stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren't intending to send, which was that we knew President Putin had made a decision," Psaki said during a press briefing Wednesday.

This comes after Ukrainian officials took issues with the U.S. assessment of the possibility of a Russian invasion. The word "imminent" was interpreted by some to mean an invasion was inevitable and immediate.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price denied the language change was made based on complaints that the U.S. rhetoric was "sowing panic" or increasing tensions.

"No one has been encouraging panic," he said. "No one is saying an invasion is a foregone conclusion."

The language the State Department uses is "calibrated to what we're seeing" in the region, according to Price.

He said the U.S. assessment speaks to the "growing level of concern" as Moscow continues its massive troop buildup and notes every action is done in the vein of defense, deterrence and diplomacy.

"We have simply been describing, in accurate terms, what we've been seeing and the steps we have been taking in response to that on a defensive basis," Price said.

He said the U.S. assessment of the invasion threat level has not changed.

Canada warns against all travel to Ukraine

Canada is urging its residents to avoid all travel to Ukraine as Russian troops continue to mass along the Ukrainian border.

The Canadian government updated its travel advisory Tuesday, citing the "ongoing Russian threats" and "risk of armed conflict."

The advisory also urges Canadians currently in Ukraine to leave now.

"If you are in the country, you should leave while commercial means are available," the advisory reads.

Sunday, Canada announced it would temporarily remove non-essential Canadian employees and dependents from its embassy in Ukraine. The embassy remains open.

"Canada will be reinforcing the team at the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, with officials with expertise in areas such as security sector reform, conflict management, democratic reform, consular services and diplomacy," Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

WATCH: State Department briefing

The State Department's daily press briefing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EST, following Wednesday's announcement that 3,000 U.S. troops will be deployed to Eastern Europe.

Watch live here, or below:

U.S. has not ruled out sending more troops to Europe

The Pentagon is not ruling out sending more forces to Europe after it announced the deployment of 3,000 troops to eastern Europe Wednesday.

Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the temporary deployment of these troops is a response to the current conditions in the region, as Russia continues to build up a military presence around Ukraine.

Kirby said the U.S. will adjust its posture as conditions evolve, in full consultation with its allies and partners.

The Pentagon said this deployment could be "preliminary" to future steps to deter Russia aggression. Kirby signaled that the U.S. will "hold the option open" for additional force movements in NATO' s eastern flank if needed.

Additional U.S.-based forces have been put on heighten preparations to deploy, but have not yet been activated. Kirby said more forces may be put on alert ready.

A look at which U.S. troops are headed to Europe

3,000 U.S. troops are soon headed to Eastern Europe to support NATO allies as the Ukrainian crisis continues. Here's a breakdown of where troops are currently based along with details released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Troops reposition from Germany to Romania:

1,000 U.S. troops from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment will reposition from Germany to Romania. The unit, based in Vilseck, will be equipped with wheeled armored fighting vehicles. The group will join 900 other U.S. troops already on regular rotation in Romania.

Troops deploy from Fort Bragg to Poland and Germany:

An additional 2,000 troops will deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Poland and Germany in the next few days.

1,700 service members of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Poland, including components of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team and key enablers.

The other 300 service members of the 18th Airborne Corps will deploy to Germany including a "Joint Task Force-capable headquarters."

The Pentagon closely consulted with Poland and Germany prior to Wednesday's announcement; Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby explained during a news conference Wednesday.

"Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and to reassure and defend our Allies during this period of elevated risk," a U.S. Department of Defense statement reads.

Biden expected to nominate ambassador to Ukraine

According to a U.S. official familiar with the decision, President Joe Biden is expected to nominate career foreign service officer Bridget Brink as his ambassador to Ukraine.

Brink, currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, will assume the long-vacant diplomatic post at a moment when the U.S. and its allies remain on high alert, with Russian troops stationed near Ukraine's border.

U.S. deployment sends "strong signal" to Putin

The deployment of 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe sends an "unmistakable" signal the U.S. stands ready to reassure NATO allies, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

"It's important that we send a strong signal to Mr. Putin and frankly to the world, that NATO matters to the United States and it matters to our allies," Kirby said during a news conference Wednesday.

"We stand ready to reassure our NATO allies to deter and defend against any aggression."

The U.S. and its allies have offered Russia a path to de-escalation and the U.S. maintains that conflict is not inevitable. It remains unclear if Russia has made a "final decision" to invade Ukraine, Kirby said, but it "clearly has that capability."

As talks continue, Russia has shown no signs of de-escalation as forces remain at the Ukrainian border and in Belarus.

Several NATO allies have recently announced considerations to add forces and capabilities in Eastern Europe.

"We welcome the announcements in recent days by other Allies - including France, Spain, UK, the Netherlands, and Denmark - of their consideration to provide additional contributions to enhancing NATO's posture on the eastern flank," a U.S. Department of Defense statement reads.

The 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert have not been deployed as of Wednesday. The troops are intended to support the NATO Response Force (NRF).

Kirby added that additional forces have been put on "shorter tethers."

Pentagon confirms leaked report of U.S. response to Russia

The Pentagon confirmed the contents of leaked documents detailing the U.S. response to Russia's proposal of new security arrangements in Europe.

The confidential documents, published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, show the U.S. and NATO rejected Russia request to guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.

The U.S. said it continues to "firmly support NATO's open door policy" but was "also prepared for a discussion of the indivisibility of security," according to the newspaper.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the reports "confirms to the entire world what we've been saying."

"There is no daylight between our public statements and our private discussions," he said.

Kirby added that the document demonstrates the U.S. and NATO are united in their efforts towards constructive diplomacy, noting the document outlines a path forward towards a diplomatic solution, if Russia choses to take it.

The leaked document also included a discussion about the U.S. willingness to discuss, in consultation with NATO partners, "a transparency mechanism to confirm the absences of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland."

This would happen on the condition that Russia provides "reciprocal transparency measures" on two ground-launched missiles of the U.S. and NATO's choosing in Russia.

Putin and British prime minister Johnson set to discuss Ukraine

Russian President Putin and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson are scheduled to discuss Ukraine Wednesday evening. The conversation will be centered around how to ease tensions over Moscow's troop build-up at the border with Ukraine, raising fears of a possible invasion.

"It can be expected that the leaders will again walk through the hot-button issues of the European agenda. That's Ukraine's domestic settlement, given Johnson's visit to Kyiv yesterday, and our proposals for providing long-term legally binding security guarantees to Russia," Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters.

"These two will be the key issues," he went on to say.

Biden sending 3,000 troops to Europe

President Joe Biden is sending 3,000 U.S. troops to Europe soon, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday.

1,000 Germany-based soldiers will deploy to Romania in the coming days. Kirby said the move is at the invitation of the Romanian government. France also announced it plans to deploy forces to Romania under NATO command.

An additional 2,000 U.S. troops will deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Poland and Germany.

The troops are separate and in addition to the 8,500 U.S. troops currently on heightened alert.

"I want to be very clear about something, these are not permanent moves," Kirby said. He cited the "current situation" demands reinforcing the defense posture on NATO's Eastern flank.

The troops will not fight in Ukraine, although the U.S. has sent multiple weapons shipments to the country over the past couple of weeks.