U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday, both the White House and Kremlin have confirmed. The two presidents are set to discuss the tense situation in Ukraine.
“Biden will underscore U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
According to her other topics would include “strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.”
“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realization of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.
The exact timing of the call was not disclosed.
More than 94,000 Russian troops are believed to be massed near Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive at the end of January, citing intelligence reports.
Biden, meanwhile, has rejected Russian demands for security guarantees in the region.
“My expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.
The U.S. president said he and his advisers were preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion. He did not give further details, but the administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin separately said that Washington was committed to ensuring that Ukraine had what it needed to protect its territory.
Austin added that there was a lot of space for diplomacy and leadership to work on Ukraine.
Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, including whether Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine.
U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”