(Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden on Saturday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of the consequences of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which U.S. officials have said could be imminent, would be “swift and severe,” according to a White House official.
The two leaders spoke for over an hour on Saturday. Biden told Putin that the U.S. and its allies “will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs” if Russia decides to go forward with an invasion of Ukraine.
Biden reiterated that a Russian invasion would produce “widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing” in the world, the White House said.
Readout of @POTUS’ call with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Biden “was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia..” pic.twitter.com/CNYMOcLeC7
— Stephen Michael (@stephenreports) February 12, 2022
The call between the two leaders comes after the State Department ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff in Kyiv. On Friday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said there was a “distinct possibility” Russia could invade Ukraine before the end of the 2022 Winter Olympics on February 20.
“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border. As we’ve said before, we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time should Vladimir Putin decide to order it,” he said.
Following the call, a senior Biden administration official told reporters it “remains unclear” if Russia was interested in pursuing goals through diplomacy or use of force.
“President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios,” the White House statement said.
Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s top foreign policy aide, said Biden mentioned the sanctions that could be imposed on Russia, but “this issue was not the focus during a fairly long conversation with the Russian leader.”
Ushakov said the call between the two leaders “was quite balanced and businesslike,” noting that Biden mentioned sanctions but the “emphasis was not on this issue” and discussions “around the topic of ‘invasion’ was conducted in a coordinated manner.”
Russia has over 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and conducted military exercises in Belarus but has still denied they are planning to invade the country. Putin has made several bold demands, which include NATO to reduce forces in Central and Eastern Europe and for NATO to not allow Ukraine to join.
Ushakov said Saturday Biden did not provide “any substantive answers” to their demands.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday, warning him that if Moscow invades Ukraine, “it would result in a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
I spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to urge a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s unprovoked military build-up around Ukraine. I reiterated that further Russian aggression would be met with a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 12, 2022
The Kremlin said the Russian foreign minister had accused the United States of a “propaganda campaign” about possible Russian aggression while ignoring Putin’s demands.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko outlined preparations the city is taking to safeguard “critical and social infrastructure facilities” in “the event of a possible emergency.”
“Our efforts are aimed at preventing or overcoming both possible provocations and withstanding a military attack,” Klitschko said in a telegram on Saturday.