MOSCOW – US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak by phone on Tuesday as tensions between the United States and Russia escalate over Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border seen as a sign of a potential invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the plans on Saturday for the much-anticipated call and said it would take place in the evening.
Russia was tougher than ever when the United States assured that Ukraine would not be allowed to join the NATO military alliance.
Meanwhile, US intelligence officials have determined that Russia has about 70,000 troops stationed near the border with Ukraine and has begun planning a possible invasion as early as next year, according to an official. the Biden administration, who were not authorized to discuss the finding publicly. and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The risk to Putin of having to undergo such an invasion would be enormous.
US officials and former US diplomats say that while the Russian president is clearly laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, Ukraine’s military today is better equipped and prepared than it was in the past. here, and the sanctions imposed by the West threaten to seriously damage the Russian economy.
“What I’m doing is putting together what I believe there will be, the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very unlikely for Mr. Putin to go on and do what everyone is worried about. he can do it.” Biden said Friday.
Ukrainian officials say Russia could invade next month. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea are estimated at 94,300, and warned that a “large-scale escalation” could happen in January. .
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recently accused that a group of Russians and Ukrainians had planned to carry out a coup in his country and that the conspirators had tried to enlist the help of the people of Ukraine. richest in Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov.
Russia and Akhmetov have denied that any conspiracies are being worked out, but the Russians have recently been more explicit in their warnings to Ukraine and the United States.
Biden is also expected to speak with Zelenskyy next week, according to a person close to the Ukrainian leader. The person was not authorized to comment publicly prior to the announcement of the call and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Kremlin said on Friday that Putin, in a phone call with Biden, would seek binding guarantees to prevent NATO expansion into Ukraine. Biden attempted to respond to demand in comments to reporters Friday before leaving for the weekend at Camp David.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red lines,” Biden said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the administration would coordinate with European allies if the country moves forward with sanctions. She alludes to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the peninsula on the Black Sea that has been under Ukraine’s control since 1954.
“We know what President Putin has done in the past,” Psaki said. “We see that he is offering the possibility to act shortly.”
The US-Russia relationship has been strained since Biden took office.
His administration has imposed sanctions on Russian targets and criticized Putin for Kremlin meddling in US elections, cyber activity against US companies and handling of opposition figures. Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned last year and then jailed.
When Putin and Biden met in Geneva in June, Biden warned that if Russia crossed certain red lines — including America’s pursuit of major infrastructure — his administration would respond. pay and “the consequences of that will be dire.”
Madhani and Long reported from Washington.