Administration

Biden, Putin to talk next week amid military buildup in Ukraine

The White House announced on Saturday that President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will talk next week amid a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine. 

The call, which is slated for Tuesday, will touch on multiple topics within the leaders' relationship, including cyber, strategic stability and regional issues, according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

 

"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," Psaki said in her statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the Tuesday video call to Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Peskov said the call will last for however long Biden and Putin decide. The U.S. source said Ukraine and other issues will be addressed during the meeting. 

The meeting comes after an intelligence document was seen by The Washington Post that indicated Russia could invade Ukraine early next year with 175,000 troops. 

"The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia's snap exercise near Ukraine's borders," an administration official told the Post. "The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment."

The tension comes as Russia is demanding Ukraine not be admitted into NATO, with the U.S. firing back, saying Russia does not get to decide which countries NATO allows in. 

Biden strongly condemned Russia's actions at the Ukraine border on Friday, saying the U.S. will "make it very, very difficult" for Putin to attack.

"I have been in constant contact with our allies in Europe, with the Ukrainians. My secretary of State, national security adviser have been engaged extensively and what I am doing is putting together what I believe will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do," Biden said.

The Hill has reached out to the White House and State Department for comment.

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

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