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Biden threatens Russia with economic measures over Ukraine in call with Putin

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 07: (---EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen during a meeting with US President Joe Biden via videoconference in Moscow, Russia on December 07, 2021. The critical meeting comes as tensions escalate over Ukraine with Russian military's buildup near its neighbor's border. ( Kremlin Press Office - Anadolu Agency )
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Dec 08, 2021 - 07:49 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden threatened to respond with “strong economic measures” if Russia escalates military action against Ukraine, the White House said Tuesday.

The threat came in a two-hour video call between Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, where they discussed a range of issues on the US-Russia agenda, the executive mansion said in a statement.

“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” it said.

Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.

“The two presidents tasked their teams to follow up, and the U.S. will do so in close coordination with allies and partners,” said the statement.

The two leaders also “discussed the US-Russia dialogue on Strategic Stability, a separate dialogue on ransomware, as well as joint work on regional issues such as Iran,” it added.

The call came amid reports that Russia has recently been amassing thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border. Earlier, the White House said Biden would reaffirm US support for “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said at a press conference that after the call, Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The US president briefed his European allies on the call and a consult on the way forward, said Sullivan.

On Monday, the US and European leaders discussed their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Moscow’s increasingly harsh rhetoric.

“They called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and agreed that diplomacy, especially through the Normandy Format, is the only way forward to resolve the conflict in Donbas through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” the White House said in a statement.

Sullivan also said that Washington does not believe that Putin has made a decision yet to move ahead with an invasion of Ukraine.

“What President Biden did today was to lay out, very clearly, the consequences if he chooses to move. He also laid out an alternative path,” Sullivan said.

In reference to the 2014 Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, Sullivan said the US president made clear to Putin that “things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now.”

He also said the US “would provide additional defensive material to the Ukrainians above and beyond that which we are already providing and we would fortify our NATO allies on the eastern flank with additional capabilities in response to such an escalation.”

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