Biden Sends Warning to Putin in Video Call

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Source: PAtrick Semansky (AP)

By Vihaan Majumdar

President Biden met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a high-stakes video call centered on the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Already, Russia has established supply lines, including fuel and medical units, and is reportedly amassing up to 175,00 troops at the border, with the US and its allies worried that a Russian offensive in Ukraine could begin in a matter of months. 

In the call, President Biden reaffirmed American support for Ukraine, reportedly telling Putin, “Things that we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now” in reference to the Obama administration’s failed attempts to stop the Russian invasion in Crimea. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan added that the US was coordinating with European allies “at a deep level of specificity” but declined to give further details. Sullivan, however, also expressed hope that the situation would be resolved peacefully, saying, “The United States and our European allies would engage in a larger discussion that covers strategic issues, including our strategic concerns with Russia and Russia’s strategic concerns. We managed to do this at the height of the Cold War and we developed mechanisms to help reduce instability and increase transparency.”

Later that same afternoon, Biden spoke with Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, then-Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain, and President Emmanuel Macron of France. He reportedly briefed them about the call with Putin, and according to a White House statement, “leaders underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the need for Russia to reduce tensions and engage in diplomacy.”

The Russians also released a statement about the call, saying, “In response, Vladimir Putin stressed that the responsibility should not be shifted onto the shoulders of Russia, since it is NATO that is making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory and is building up its military potential at our borders. Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees excluding the expansion of NATO in the eastern direction and the deployment of offensive weapons systems in the states adjacent to Russia.” Putin Aide Yury Ushakov told reporters that Russian officials are “really worried about our security” but dismissed the idea of a Russia invasion in Ukraine.

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