Biden warns Putin of consequences of aggression against Ukraine

December 7, 2021
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked for two hours on Tuesday via secure video teleconference about Ukraine and other issues. Biden put Putin on notice that the U.S. and its allies could impose economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.
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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden put Russian President Vladimir Putin on notice Tuesday that the United States and its allies are prepared to impose tough economic sanctions against Russia if Moscow escalates its aggression against Ukraine.

In a high-stakes video teleconference, Biden emphasized that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. But he warned that the U.S. would send additional defense resources to Ukraine above what it is already providing and would be looking to deploy additional forces to fortify its NATO allies in the area in response to a Russian incursion in Ukraine.

The two-hour discussion between the two leaders was “direct and straightforward,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“There was a lot of give and take,” Sullivan told reporters after the call. “There was no finger-wagging, but the president was crystal clear about where the United States stands on all of these issues.”

More:Biden, Putin to talk next week as tensions grow over Ukraine

More:Video diplomacy: Biden to warn Putin against Ukraine invasion in high-stakes call

The video conference call between Biden and Putin came amid growing concern over U.S. intelligence reports of a buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, raising alarms that an invasion may be imminent.

The U.S. believes Putin still hasn’t made a decision to invade Ukraine, Sullivan said, but officials have stressed that Russia is putting in place the capacity to pursue such escalation if he chooses to do so.

Sullivan declined to spell out what economic sanctions the U.S. and its allies might impose on Russia if Putin decides to invade Ukraine. But he said Biden made it clear that while he prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the U.S. is serious about taking countermeasures should they be required.

Sullivan suggested those measures would be much more forceful than sanctions imposed in 2014 in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Russia from occupying Crimea.

“President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now,” he said.

Sullivan would not confirm reports that the U.S. has an agreement with Germany’s incoming government to cut off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a much-disputed underseas gas pipeline planned to run from Russia to Germany, if Russia escalates its conflict with Ukraine.

But, “if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine,” he said.

After the call with Putin, Biden called to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to update them on his conversation with Putin and consult with them on a way forward.

Biden plans to speak with congressional leaders about ways in which the administration and Congress can work together on a bipartisan basis to stand up for American interests and stand behind our friends and partners, Sullivan said.

Biden also plans to speak Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Sullivan said.

More:What is happening at Ukraine’s border? Putin’s buildup of Russian troops sparks concern

More:From Reagan and Gorbachev to Biden and Putin: 6 meetings show how the US-Russia relationship has evolved

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