President Joe Biden told his counterpart in Kyiv that the United States and its allies would “react decisively” if Russia invaded Ukraine as tensions rose over Moscow’s troop deployment.
Sunday’s call between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was the latest diplomatic attempt to defuse rising tensions after Russia accumulated about 100,000 soldiers on the eastern border of Ukraine. Washington, Moscow and NATO member countries prepare to meet for negotiations at the beginning of January, when Russia intends to press for “security guarantees” to limit the expansion of the military alliance in Europe.
Biden “reaffirms” the US commitment to Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”, according to a statement by Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.
After the exchange, Zelensky wrote on Twitter that the leaders discussed “joint actions” by Ukraine, the United States and their partners “in maintaining peace in Europe, preventing further escalation, reform, de-oligarchy”.
Biden’s message to Zelensky repeats talk on the phone last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the US president said Washington and its allies were prepared to respond “definitively” if Moscow invaded Ukraine.
A day after the call with Putin, arranged last Thursday at Moscow’s request, Biden said: “I’m not going to negotiate publicly here, but we’ve made it clear that he does. [Putin] impossible – I stress impossible – move over Ukraine”.
Although the Russian leader had previously denied any plans to invade Ukraine, last month he said he was prepared to use “appropriate technical-military measures” and “react harshly to the hostile steps” if Kyiv and Western supporters ignore “Moscow.red line“.
Russian forces in March 2014 forcibly seized Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula after a pro-democracy movement toppled pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich. A month later, an armed uprising broke out in the easternmost regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, with Russian-led forces taking over parts of the region.
More than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict and about 1.5 million displaced – the biggest migration crisis in Europe since the Balkan wars, according to the International Organization for Migration.
About 7% of Ukraine’s territory remains under the control of Russia or its proxies as of 2014.
Moscow has denied involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which has dragged on for eight years and escalated in recent months. Commoners have join the training camp to prepare to support the Ukrainian army in the event of war.
A senior US administration official said the tone of the conversation between Biden and Putin was “serious and substantive”, with both leaders acknowledging the possibility of making “meaningful progress” in the deal. some areas but also “cannot reach agreement”.
Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said the Kremlin was “satisfied” with the conversation with Biden, calling it “frank, substantive”. [and] specific”, according to Interfax.
The threat of Russian military force has revived the debate in Finland on whether the Nordic country should join NATO, a move that could challenge demands from Russia to limit the growth of the military alliance in Europe.
In their New Year’s speeches, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin emphasized that the country retains the option of seeking NATO membership at any time.
The phone calls also came amid controversy surrounding Russia’s role in Europe’s soaring gas prices. Some European officials have accused Russian gas giant Gazprom of withholding additional volumes as it aims to launch the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe, approved by German regulators. Being held.
Gazprom insists it is meeting all contractual obligations to supply gas to Europe and says record prices have killed demand for spot sales.