Biden warns Putin of ‘severe costs’ of Ukraine invasion – White House

U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack Ukraine at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2021. (Reuters photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for an hour on Saturday after Washington and its allies warned that Russian forces could invade Ukraine at any moment.

In the latest effort to avert hostilities, the Biden-Putin call began at 11:04 a.m. Eastern time (1604 GMT) and ended at 12:06 p.m., a White House official said.

“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,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing,” it added.

“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.”

Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and a surge of military activity has fueled fears that Russia could invade. Russia denies having any such plans.

Earlier on Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told Putin that sincere negotiations were incompatible with an escalation in tensions over Ukraine, France said.

Washington said on Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine, likely beginning with an air assault, could occur at any time.

U.S., UK, Bulgaria, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Iraq and other countries have also urged their citizens to leave Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly disputed Washington’s version of events, saying it has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border to maintain its own security against aggression by NATO allies.

Russia, which has accused Western nations of spreading lies to distract from their own acts, meanwhile said on Saturday that it had decided to “optimise” its diplomatic staff numbers in Ukraine, fearing “provocations” by Kyiv or others.

*This story was updated at 9:24 p.m. EBL time

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