White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the need for the U.S. government to "put plans in place" to evacuate Americans from Ukraine should Russia invade.
Psaki's comments on Tuesday came directly following President Joe Biden's video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said that on the call, Biden "was direct and straightforward" when telling Putin the United States and its allies would enact economic countermeasures and ramp up military aid to Ukraine if Russia didn't de-escalate the situation at the border.
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"Of course, the military does contingency planning for a range of potential scenarios in order to keep the U.S. personnel safe, and when a security situation warrants it, the State Department issues travel notices and security warnings to U.S. citizens. That's how the process broadly works," she told reporters at Tuesday's White House press briefing. "But it's not the standard process for the United States government to evacuate U.S. citizens typically. If a security situation deteriorates, the State Department issues a travel warning or travel advisory. Obviously, our embassy would provide consular service. We're not even at that point right now."
Still, a reporter pressed Psaki in a follow-up question if there are "any lessons that were learned during the mass evacuation in Afghanistan that are already being headed this time around."
"I think it's really important for people not to compare the two. I mean, of course, you can ask any question you want, but Afghanistan was a war zone," she responded. "We were at war for 20 years. What we're talking about here is a situation we are trying to work to de-escalate and move towards a diplomatic path."
Psaki added that the two are "not comparable situations, in our view."
"I would say that it is not standard," she closed. "As you all know, from our discussions about Ethiopia, for the U.S. government to plan for — we plan for everything but to evacuate on military planes American citizens, there is a lengthy process that we undergo typically around the world."
“The Department of Defense is a planning organization and must be ready for any manner of contingencies around the world," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the Washington Examiner. "We do a lot of thinking about a lot of scenarios. But there is no demand signal for civilian evacuations in Ukraine, and it would be wrong to conclude that there is an active effort in the Pentagon to prepare for them.”
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You can watch Tuesday's entire briefing below.