Published On: Wed, Dec 29th, 2021

Biden, Putin to speak Thursday amid growing tensions over Ukraine

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will hold a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, a National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement.

Russia has massed 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, prompting fears of an invasion as early as next month, but it has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to attack its neighbor.

“The Biden Administration continues to engage in extensive diplomacy with our European Allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine,” said National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne.

A day before the planned call, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Blinken “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement.

Blinken and Zelenskyy discussed efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia, Price said.

Biden warned Putin in a virtual call earlier this month that Russia would face “severe consequences” if it attacked Ukraine.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, drawing condemnation and sanctions from the West. Shortly afterward, Moscow backed a separatist rebellion in the country’s east, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

Biden has come under criticism for having suspended sanctions this year on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, a project strongly opposed by Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. But U.S. officials say the administration will not hesitate to impose sanctions and prevent the completion of the pipeline if necessary.

Abigail Williams contributed.

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