Biden and Putin Exchange Warnings in Call

U.S. President Joe Biden and President of Russia Vladimir Putin exchanged warnings over the ongoing Ukraine crisis during a nearly hour-long phone call on Thursday night. 

The call did very little to lower the rising political temperature over the Ukraine crisis. 

Russia has been amassing tens of thousands of troops along its border with the Ukraine over the past several weeks, quickly raising alarm bells in the U.S., Ukraine, and Europe, as well as other allied states. Following the Russian seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula in 2014, and its ongoing backing of separatist groups in eastern Europe, the U.S. and allies are worried that this military presence means an advance by Russia into Ukraine. 

The phone call marked the second conversation between the leaders this month. The first call occurred over video on December 7, ending with a promise to reignite diplomatic discussions between the countries. Thursday night’s call, which lasted for 50 minutes, was requested by Putin. According to the White House, both leaders reaffirmed and restated their positions on Ukraine, including a warning from Biden of “severe consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine. 

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Biden urged Russia to de-escalate the rising tensions with Ukraine, and made clear that U.S. and allied countries will make severe responses if there is an invasion. 

According to the Kremlin, Putin responded to the paths that Biden laid out with a dire warning, saying that these new threatened sanctions would be a “colossal mistake” leading ultimately to a total breakdown of U.S.-Russia relations. 

U.S. officials said that Putin offered very little clues about Russia’s intentions with Ukraine in the call. 

These talks came about two weeks prior to scheduled U.S.-Russia diplomatic talks in Geneva to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis. 

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