Joe Biden will hold a video call with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to underscore US concerns over Russia’s troop surge on the border with Ukraine, the White House said.
Diplomats announced earlier this week that Biden and Putin would speak to each other.
A statement released on Saturday evening said the US president would “make a secure video call” with his Russian counterpart.
“The leaders will discuss a number of issues in US-Russia relations, including strategic stability, cyber and regional issues,” the statement said.
“President Biden will underscore US concerns about Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Kiev and the NATO powers accuse Russia of building troops near Ukraine, fueling fears of a possible attack. Moscow denies such a plan, accusing Ukraine of building its own troops in the east, where Russian-backed separatists control much of Ukrainian territory.
The Kremlin said the two leaders would also discuss bilateral relations and the implementation of the agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June.
“The conversation will actually take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “The bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the implementation of the agreements made in Geneva are the most important” [items] on the agenda.”
The exact time of the call was not disclosed.
More than 94,000 Russian soldiers are said to be stationed near the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for late January, citing intelligence reports.
US officials have come to similar conclusions, it said.
Biden has rejected Russian demands for security guarantees in the region.
“My expectation is that we will have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he went on a weekend trip to Camp David.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red lines.”
The US president said he and his advisors are preparing a full range of initiatives to prevent Putin from invading. He did not provide any further details, but the government has talked about partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.
Biden’s Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, separately said Washington is determined to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to protect its territory. Austin added that there was plenty of room for diplomacy and leadership to work on Ukraine.
“They’ve invaded before,” Austin said when asked how concerned he was with the situation on Saturday.
“And when we look at the number of forces in the border region, when we look at some of the things that are happening in the information space, when we look at what is going on in cyber, that really gives us cause for concern.” said Austin.
“We are definitely determined to help Ukraine defend its sovereign territory.”
James C. McConville, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, referred Saturday to estimates of 95,000 to 100,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I’m very, very concerned,” said McConville.
Moscow has accused Kiev of its own military rearmament, dismissed the preparation of an attack on its southern neighbor as inflammatory allusions and defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
US officials say they do not yet know whether Putin decided to invade Ukraine.
US-Russia relations have deteriorated for years, notably with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, the intervention in Syria in 2015, and US intelligence allegations that Donald Trump had won over To meddle in the 2016 elections. Relationships have become even more volatile in recent months.
The Biden government called on Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cybercrime attacks from Russian soil, and in November indicted a Ukrainian citizen and a Russian with one of the worst ransomware attacks on US targets. Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyberattacks.
The two heads of state and government have had a face-to-face meeting in Geneva in June since Biden took office in January. You last called on July 9th. Biden enjoys face-to-face talks with world leaders and sees them as an opportunity to ease tension.
His Foreign Minister Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the US and European allies would âimpose serious costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive measures against Ukraineâ.
Russia said earlier on Saturday that an Aeroflot plane flying from Tel Aviv to Moscow was forced to change altitude over the Black Sea because a NATO CL-600 reconnaissance aircraft crossed its flight path.
The state-owned airline said flight SU501, carrying 142 passengers, had to take off 2,000 feet on Friday after air traffic control announced that another aircraft had crossed its path. The crew could see the other aircraft, it said.
The aviation authority Rosaviatsia announced that a smaller CL-650 aircraft that flew from the Black Sea resort of Sochi to Skopje also had to change course. It was not stated which NATO member the reconnaissance aircraft belonged to. The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that it had sent fighter jets to escort two US reconnaissance planes over the Black Sea. The US embassy in Moscow did not initially comment on the incident.
Rosaviatsia said an increase in NATO flights creates risks for civil aircraft and Moscow plans to file a diplomatic complaint.