Biden and Putin to Speak on Russia and Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to de-escalate rising tensions over Ukraine. The phone call, to be held Thursday night, will mark the second time the two leaders have spoken this month. 

Biden and Putin will address a range of topics, including the upcoming diplomatic security talks between the U.S. and Russia, as well as the security demands in eastern Europe. 

Russia requested the call with Biden as part of the preparation for formal security talks that will begin in the new year. Russian and American delegations are to meet in Geneva on January 10.

Russia has built up a sizable military presence on its border with Ukraine but denies that it has a plan to invade the country. The Kremlin has said that the troops are there for exercise and that Russia has the right to move its military freely across its own country. 

Ukrainian authorities are concerned about the presence. Ukrainian officials say that there are more than 100,000 troops on the border. 

If Ukraine does come under attack by Russia, Biden has threatened that Putin will be slapped with sanctions “like none he’s ever seen.” 

Russia has also demanded that Ukraine is not admitted to Nato and that Nato will not move eastward closer towards Russia, nor that weapons will be sent to Ukraine or other neighboring countries. 

Earlier in December, the two presidents had a virtual summit over the crisis in Ukraine, but it produced little headway. During the talks, Russia demanded guarantees that Nato would not be expanded towards Russia. 

It is expected that in this call, Biden will again state that the U.S. is prepared to respond if Russia advances into Ukraine. 

Before the call, Putin delivered a holiday message to Biden, saying he was convinced that the two could work together on a basis of mutual respect and consideration of both national interests.

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