WASHINGTON – As the increased presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine fans fears of aggression, President Joe Biden is holding a call Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s request.
The White House has warned Russia against invading its neighbor — with a senior administration official labeling the situation a “moment of crisis” Wednesday — and Biden’s call with Putin will be a major test of American leadership on a global stage.
“Biden is under pressure to show results and to show whether the United States with its allies can deter Russia and get it to step down from this build up,” said Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University.
Biden’s call with Putin began at 3:35 p.m. EST, according to the White House.
Russia has ramped up its military presence along Ukraine’s eastern border over the past several months. Biden and America’s Western allies have said they will impose tough economic sanctions against Russia if its aggression escalates.
The White House has previously said discussions with Russia would be more productive if they see de-escalation of troops along the Ukraine’s border. However, troop presence has remained consistent, worrying the White House.
What is happening at Ukraine’s border?:Putin’s buildup of Russian troops sparks concern
Biden and Putin’s call comes ahead of a bilateral meeting between U.S. and Russian officials scheduled for Jan. 10. That same week, there will also be meetings between NATO and Russia, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Ukraine will be present.
Biden held a high-stakes video teleconference with Putin earlier this month, where he emphasized that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. However, the president warned that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. would send additional defense resources to Ukraine and would look to deploy additional forces to fortify its NATO allies in the area.
Contributing: Michael Collins, Matthew Brown and Joey Garrison
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_