US President Joe Biden again warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call Saturday of “swift and severe” consequences if Russia invades Ukraine, according to a statement from the White House.
In a phone conversation on Saturday, Biden and Putin discussed the crisis as tensions continue to grow amid concerns that Russia is ready to mount an invasion of Ukraine. Russia continues to add to the more than 100,000 troops it has massed at the Ukrainian border in recent months.
After the call, Yury Ushakov, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy adviser, said Biden had largely repeated ideas offered in January to address Russia’s security concerns.
The White House said Biden conducted the call from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, from 11:04 a.m.EST to 12:06PM EST.
“President 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,” the White House statement said.
“President Biden was also 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 statement added.
A senior U.S. administration official told reporters after the call there was “no change in the fundamental dynamic” of the crisis. The official said Biden again proposed diplomatic solutions and that the call ended without an indication of what Putin’s next move would be.
Rissia’s Ushakov said the call was “balanced and businesslike” and that the two leaders “agreed to continue contacts at all levels.”
But he also took issue with U.S. statements that an invasion could come soon, saying: “Hysteria has reached its peak.”
Washington has received intelligence reports that the invasion could happen as early as Wednesday.
“But unfortunately, and this was said, these considerations do not touch upon the central, key elements of Russian initiatives,” the Kremlin official said. He added that Russia would respond to those counterproposals soon.
More than a dozen countries have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine amid warnings from Western powers that an invasion by Russia could be imminent.
The US, UK and Germany, Italy are among those who told their nationals to leave.
On Sunday, Ukraine said it sees no point closing its airspace amid an escalation with Russia.
“The most important point is that Ukraine itself sees no point in closing the sky. This is nonsense. And, in my opinion, it somewhat resembles a kind of partial blockade,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian president’s chief of staff.