WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States and its allies are ready to impose tough economic sanctions on Russia if Moscow steps up its aggression against Ukraine.
During a high-stakes video conference, Biden stressed his preference for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. But he warned that the United States would send Ukraine additional defense resources to what it is already providing and would seek to deploy additional forces to fortify its NATO allies in the region in response to a Russian foray into Ukraine.
The two-hour discussion between the two leaders was “straightforward and straightforward,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
“There has been a lot of give-and-take,” Sullivan told reporters after the call. “There was no fuss, but the President has been very clear on the United States’ position on all of these issues.”
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The video conference between Biden and Putin came amid growing concern over reports by U.S. intelligence services of a build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, which alerted an impending invasion.
The United States believes Putin still has not made a decision to invade Ukraine, Sullivan said, but officials stressed that Russia is building the capacity to continue such an escalation if he chooses to do so. to do.
Sullivan declined to say what economic sanctions the United States and its allies might impose on Russia if Putin decides to invade Ukraine. But he said Biden has made it clear that while he prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the United States is determined to take countermeasures if necessary.
Sullivan suggested that these measures would be much stronger than the sanctions imposed in 2014 in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Russia from occupying Crimea.
“President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that things we didn’t do in 2014 we are ready to do now,” he said.
Sullivan did not confirm reports that the United States has an agreement with the new German government to cut off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a hotly contested underwater pipeline that was to connect Russia to Germany, if Russia worsened its conflict with Ukraine.
But, “if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flowing through this pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine,” he declared.
A senior US representative, Victoria Nuland, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that if Russia invades, “we expect the pipeline to be suspended.”
The Kremlin, in its summary of the appeal, described the conversation between Biden and Putin as “frank and pragmatic.”
“Putin stressed that it was wrong to place the blame on Russia, because it was NATO that made dangerous attempts to expand its presence on Ukrainian territory and extended its military potential near Russian borders,” the Kremlin said.
After the video call, Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to update them on his conversation with Putin and consult them. on the way forward.
Biden plans to discuss with congressional leaders ways in which the administration and Congress can work together on a bipartisan basis to advance American interests and support our friends and partners, Sullivan said.
Biden also plans to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, Sullivan said.
Michael Collins and Matthew Brown cover the White House. Follow Collins on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS and Brown @mrbrownsir.
Contribution: The Associated Press
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