President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on Tuesday about the anticipated invasion of Ukraine by Russia was a classic example of how to update people about a crisis. In the partial transcript of his remarks below, I’ve inserted subheads that refer to the best practices he used in his remarks.
Be Honest About What You Are Prepared To Do
We are ready with diplomacy — to be engaged in diplomacy with Russia and our Allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole.
And we are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility.
Through all of the events of the last few weeks and months, this has been our approach. And it remains our approach now.
Explain What You’ve Done
So, today I want to speak to the American people about the situation on the ground, the steps we’ve taken, the actions we’re prepared to take, and what’s at stake for us and the world, and how this may impact on us here at home.
For weeks now, together with our Allies and partners, my administration has engaged in non-stop diplomacy.
This weekend I spoke again with President Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns if that’s what — his wish. Their security concerns and ours.
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President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage toward this end along with our European Allies and partners.
Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy. I agree. We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed. I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.
The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe.
We’re proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures. These measures would apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.
And we’re willing to make practical, results-oriented steps that can advance our common security. We will not sacrifice basic principles, though.
Discuss Preferred Next Steps
As long as there is hope of a diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids the incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.
Share The Latest Developments
The Russian Defense Ministry reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine.
That would be good, but we have not yet verified that. We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases. Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position. And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.
An invasion remains distinctly possible. That’s why I’ve asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely. It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border.
And we’ve been transparent with the American people and with the world about Russia’s plans and the seriousness of the situation so that everyone can see for themselves what is happening. We have shared what we know and what we are doing about it.
Put Things In Perspective
Let me be equally clear about what we are not doing:
The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia.
Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not — do not have plans to put them there as well.
We’re not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia.
To the citizens of Russia: You are not our enemy. And I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine — a country and a people with whom you share such deep ties of family, history, and culture.
Explain The Consequences
If Russia does invade in the days or weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense, and the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense.
If Russia attacks Ukraine, it’ll be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.
Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound.
The United States and our Allies and partners will respond decisively. The West is united and galvanized.
Outline What’s At Stake
Because this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine. It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty — for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force. That’s our vision. And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail.
Draw The Line
While I will not send American servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military with equipment to help them defend themselves. We have provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose.
And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us. And the United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct.
Already, in response to Russia’s build-up of troops, I have sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank.
I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices.
But let there be no doubt: If Russia commits this breach by invading Ukraine, responsible nations around the world will not hesitate to respond.
If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we’ll surely pay a steeper price tomorrow.