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Kamala Harris: US won't put troops on the ground in Ukraine

The vice president also said the U.S. will not "escalate" after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear deterrent forces to be on alert.

Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated on TODAY that the Biden administration is "not going to put U.S. troops on the ground to fight Russians in Ukraine," as Russia stepped up its assault of key Ukrainian cities on Wednesday.

A military convoy stretching for miles is threatening Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, while its second-largest city, Kharkiv, has faced a stepped-up attack from Russia.

The U.S. has drawn the line on direct military support for Ukraine, which Harris reaffirmed on Wednesday.

"As we've said, and I'll repeat, we're not going to put U.S. troops on the ground to fight Russians in Ukraine, down on the ground or in the air," Harris told Savannah Guthrie. "However, we have been supplying Ukraine and our allies with an extraordinary amount of support that is about security assistance and military assistance.

"We have deployed thousands of U.S. troops to our NATO alliance countries, Poland being one example, because we are prepared to assist our allies with what they need in terms of support, for example, in receiving refugees, but also we are there because we are an alliance."

The vice president's comments echoed those by President Joe Biden in Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.

“Let me be clear,” Biden said. “Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.”

The vice president also responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement on Feb. 27 that he ordered his nuclear deterrent forces to be on alert. The order puts Russia in a heightened state of readiness to launch nuclear weapons.

"We listened to everything obviously, but it is irresponsible to escalate, and we feel very strongly about this," Harris said. "As you know, we have a history of working with Russia in terms of this issue. And will move on in terms of making sure that there is not escalation around this. Frankly, I think it's highly irresponsible.

"It's something we will obviously monitor, but our position is that we are not going to contribute to an escalation in that direction, and we have no intention of changing our posture."

Harris also noted that the U.S. is helping Poland with an influx of refugees as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee the country.

"When I spoke with the prime minister of Poland yesterday, we talked extensively about that, and what we can do to continue to increase and to support the humanitarian assistance that is necessary to address these refugees and ensure that they are being treated in a humanitarian way," Harris said.