Biden, Putin to Speak Thursday Amid Ukraine Tensions This combination of pictures created on December 06, 2021 shows US President Joe Biden during a signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC on November 18, 2021 and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a congress of the United Russia party in Moscow, on December 4, 2021. (Mandel Ngan and Mikhail Metzel/AFP via Getty)
By Brian Freeman | Wednesday, 29 December 2021 02:55 PM
President Joe Biden plans to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin via phone call Thursday amid continued tensions over Ukraine, a National Security Council spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday, NBC News reports.
Russia has amassed some 100,000 soldiers along its border with Ukraine, raising fears among many in the international community of an invasion.
Putin requested the call, and Biden accepted because "he believes when it comes to Russia there is no substitute for direct leader-leader dialogue," an administration official told CNN.
"The Biden Administration continues to engage in extensive diplomacy with our European Allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine," said National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, NBC News reports.
She added that "officials have also held numerous consultations with their counterparts, including those from eastern flank countries bilaterally and in the B9 format as well as Ukraine," according to Politico.
The B9 (Bucharest Nine) refers to nine European nations that form the eastern edge of NATO – Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and "reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Earlier this month, Biden warned Putin in a virtual call that Moscow would face "severe consequences" if it attacked Ukraine.
An administration official said the U.S. has not yet seen any attempt by Moscow to lower tensions over the issue, CNN reports.
"We continue to see a significant Russian troop presence in and around the border of Ukraine, and we have continued to make clear to the Russian side that for there to be real progress in these talks, a context of de-escalation will be required," the person said.
The West condemned and placed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Afterwards, the Kremlin backed a separatist rebellion in the Ukraine’s east, where fighting has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the country’s industrial heartland.