Biden threatens Putin with ‘swift and severe costs’ if Russia invades Ukraine in hour-long call

President Joe Biden told President Vladimir Putin the US and its allies would “respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia” if it further invades Ukraine.

The two leaders spoke for an hour today amid building tensions over the Russian build up of troops on its border with Ukraine.

The secure call between the two leaders began at 11.04am ET and ended at 12.06pm.

A readout provided by the White Houses states: “President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia.”

It continues: “President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing. President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios.”

With 130,000 Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s border, the US has claimed war could begin at any moment and, along with several other countries, has advised its citizens to leave the country immediately.

The call comes just hours after the US moved troops out of Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff from Kiev. The Pentagon pulled out nearly 160 members of the Florida National Guard who had been in the country since November.

Some in Washington have predicted that conflict could begin by the middle of next week, placing extra emphasis on today’s phone call.

The conversation was arranged on Friday after Russia proposed a call on Monday, but the US countered with the proposal for Saturday, given the urgency of the situation.

President Biden is currently at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.

This was the first direct conversation between the two leaders since December. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called this weekend “a pivotal moment” of diplomacy.

“So far, we’ve only seen escalation from Moscow,” Mr Blinken said after speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Tensions rose further on Saturday when the Defense Ministry summoned the US embassy’s military attache after it said the navy detected an American submarine in Russian waters near the Kuril Islands in the Pacific.

The submarine orders declined to leave, but departed after the navy used unspecified “appropriate means,” the ministry said.

Adding to the sense of crisis, the Pentagon ordered an additional 3,000 troops to Poland to reassure allies.

There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent days. On Friday Mr Biden held a video call with transatlantic leaders about the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border.

A readout of the call provided by the White House says the leaders expressed their desire for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, and discussed recent engagements with Russia in multiple formats.

They agreed on the importance of coordinated efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including their readiness to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia should it choose military escalation, and to continue reinforcing the defensive posture on Nato’s eastern flank.

On the call were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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