Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have exchanged warnings over the phone on Thursday during a 50-minute talk about the crisis in Ukraine.
“President Biden urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” Psaki said.
In a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official said that Biden laid out two options, one of diplomacy and de-escalation, the other of deterrence “including serious costs and consequences” such as economic sanctions, strengthening Nato’s force posture and military assistance to Ukraine.
The official also acknowledged that Putin did not clarify if he plans to invade or back down.
“We’re not going to draw conclusions, and there were certainly no declarations as to intentions from this conversation. But regardless, our focus is really on actions and on indicators… and prepare ourselves for whatever decision ultimately is made by the Russian president,” the official added.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Putin had used the call to issue a threat of his own, telling Biden that new sanctions could rupture ties between the two countries.
“Our president immediately responded that if the west decides in this or other circumstances to impose these unprecedented sanctions… could lead to a complete breakdown in ties between our countries and cause the most serious damage to relations between Russia and the west,” Putin’s Foreign Policy Adviser Yuri Ushakov told Reuters.
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