President Joe Biden took part in a 50-minute telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday.
On the call, Biden urged Putin to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine, making clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine, according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Biden also expressed support for diplomacy ahead of high-level bilateral talks between Russia and the United States scheduled for the week of Jan. 10 in Geneva. These will include the Strategic Stability Dialogue, as well as the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE Permanent Council meeting.
Biden reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of de-escalation rather than escalation.
Russia has amassed troops at its border with Ukraine in recent weeks with estimates of more than 90,000 along the border and in Russian-annexed Crimea.
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Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
The United States and its allies have refused to offer Russia any guarantees, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any qualifying country.
Thursday’s call marks the second time Biden has warned Putin that the United States will coordinate with its allies to impose severe sanctions against Russia should it invade Ukraine.
The two leaders last spoke during a call on Dec. 7.
Biden has said that sending troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion is “not on the table.” But White House officials have said “other measures” could also include additional defensive material to the Ukrainians and the fortification of NATO allies on Russia’s eastern flank with additional capabilities if Russia decides to invade.
“I think both leaders believe that there is genuine value in direct leader-to-leader engagement, that we are at a moment of crisis and have been for some weeks now, given the Russian buildup, and that it will take a high level of engagement to address this and to try to find a path of de-escalation,” said a senior administration official ahead of the call.
Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Wednesday to coordinate and consult on a range of issues from the perspective of the government of Ukraine.
U.S. officials have said the military buildup, along with a spike in anti-Ukrainian activity on social media, harkens back to a “similar playbook” used by Putin in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea.
Officials have also said that should Russia invade Ukraine, the sanctions imposed would go far beyond what was implemented in 2014.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in December that the United States has held intensive conversations with both the incoming and outgoing German governments on the subject of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the context of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, set your face against Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshek and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say: Thus says the Lord God: I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshek and Tubal. And I will turn you back and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet. I will do so to Gomer and all its troops, Beth Togarmah of the north quarters and all its troops, and many peoples with you.
Be prepared and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled to you, and be a guard to them. After many days you shall be called. In the latter years you shall come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered out of many peoples, against the mountains of Israel which had been always a waste. But its people were brought out of the nations, and they, all of them, are dwelling safely. You shall ascend and come like a storm; you shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you.
Thus says the Lord God: It shall come to pass on that day that things shall come into your mind and you shall think an evil thought, and you shall say, “I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates,” to take spoil and to seize prey, to turn your hand against the desolate places that are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered out of the nations, who have obtained livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the world. Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages shall say to you, “Have you come to take spoil? Have you gathered your company to seize prey, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great spoil?”
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: Thus says the Lord God: On that day when My people of Israel dwell safely, shall you not know it? And you shall come from your place out of the north parts, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. And you shall come up against My people of Israel as a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the latter days that I will bring you against My land so that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:1-16 Modern English Version)