Biden, Putin to hold video call Tuesday amid Ukraine tensions

Biden, Putin to hold video call Tuesday amid Ukraine tensions

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak via video call this week to discuss fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and other topics, the White House said Saturday.

The White House’s announcement of the call, which is scheduled for Tuesday, comes hours after it was made public by the Kremlin. The exact timing of the call is not yet known.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the two leaders will discuss a range of topics including cyber security, regional issues and strategic stability.

“President 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,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement.

The two leaders have held only one face-to-face talk in Geneva in June and their last known phone call was July 9.

Mr. Biden is expected to press his Russian counterpart on Moscow’s buildup of troops at the Ukraine border. More than 94,000 Russian troops, armored vehicles, and electronic warfare systems have been deployed to their shared border. It is the largest build-up of Russian forces on its border since it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksil Rezinkov said Friday that Moscow may be preparing for a large-scale military invasion at the end of January.

Russian officials have insisted they have no plans to invade Ukraine and say the troops are there for military exercises.

The troop build-up has frayed already tense relations between the U.S. and Russia.

Mr. Biden on Friday told reporters that he would make it “very, very difficult” for Mr. Putin to “go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.” He also said plans were underway for an aggressive set of initiatives to deter Mr. Putin from an invasion, but declined to offer specifics.

The U.S. and its European allies have begun weighing sanctions if Russia takes aggressive action.