Biden to hold talks with NATO allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin’s call | World news


By AAMER MADHANI and DARIA LITNOVA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is expected to consult by phone with his European allies on Monday about the Russian troop build-up on the Ukrainian border, a day before Biden’s much-anticipated video meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Officials from other major NATO countries – the UK, France, Germany and Italy – were due to be in contact with Biden on Monday, who is seeking to coordinate messages and potential economic sanctions against Russia in response to the situation in Ukraine.

Ukraine will likely be the focus of the Biden-Putin conversation, but the two are also expected to address cybersecurity, Iran’s nuclear program and other matters of mutual concern.

U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia has assembled around 70,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has started planning for a possible invasion early next year, according to a Biden administration official who was not authorized to discuss this discovery publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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A second administration official pointed out that the United States had not determined whether Putin had made a final decision on a possible invasion. Still, Biden in Tuesday’s appeal intends to make clear to the Russian leader that there will be a “very real cost” if Russia chooses to proceed with military action, the official said.

Potential US countermeasures include tough economic sanctions, increased support for the Ukrainian military and strengthening the military capabilities of NATO allies in the region, the official said.

Biden is also expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the coming days after his call with Putin, the administration official said.

The Kremlin said last week that Putin would ask Biden for binding guarantees preventing NATO expansion in Ukraine. Biden and his associates have indicated that such a guarantee is not likely.

The risks for Putin to carry out an invasion could be significant.

US officials and former US diplomats say the Ukrainian military is better armed and better prepared today than in the past, and that the sanctions threatened by the West would seriously damage the Russian economy.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on his daily conference call with reporters on Monday said that US-Russian relations are in “a rather dire state”, but that the Kremlin is eagerly awaiting what Biden has to say.

“I think President Putin will hear these proposals with great interest. And we will be able to see how these (proposals) could defuse tensions, ”Peskov told Russian state broadcaster Channel One later Monday.

Litnova reported from Moscow.

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