US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have spoken by phone on Saturday as tensions remain at boiling point over Ukraine.
According to a White House readout of the call, Biden warned Putin that the US and its allies would “respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia” in the event of an invasion, and that such military action would “diminish Russia’s standing” internationally.
Biden, who has thus far ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine, said that should diplomacy fail, America is “equally prepared for other scenarios.”
The Kremlin is yet to reveal any details of the conversation.
The call, which took place at the White House’s request, is the first between the two leaders since the end of December. It took place a day after US officials warned of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, and hours after Washington pulled its troops – 160 military advisers – from the country.
Despite the Americans warning of an invasion “any day now,” Moscow has written their warnings off as “fake news.” American officials have not provided any evidence for their claims, and pressed by reporters on Friday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cited US intelligence showing a “very distinct possibility that Russia might choose” to take military action “on a reasonably swift timeframe,” adding there is a “credible prospect” that this might happen in the coming days. However, Sullivan also added that the US does not actually know whether Putin will order an invasion or not.
READ MORE: Russian invasion coming ‘any day now’ – US
Should Russia take military action, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Saturday of a “resolute, massive and united trans-Atlantic response.” However, President Biden has thus far ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine, choosing instead to send thousands to Poland and Romania instead.
Before speaking to Biden, Putin spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron by phone for nearly two hours. French officials told AFP that Putin wants an independent Ukraine that would remain out of the NATO alliance, something Western leaders have ruled out. Moscow has long insisted that NATO arms on its border would constitute an unacceptable security risk.
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