Biden to speak with NATO allies amid fears of Russian invasion
President Biden on Friday is slated to speak with NATO allies as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grow.
The call will be the latest in a flurry of diplomatic engagements between Biden administration officials and European allies about Russia’s threatening military buildup on Ukraine’s border.
“The President will speak with Transatlantic leaders on a phone call tomorrow afternoon about Russia’s buildup of military troops on the border of Ukraine and our continued efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy,” a White House official said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Vice President Harris, who is in Germany for the Munich Security Conference, met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the global gathering on Friday.
During the meeting, Harris stressed the United States’ commitment to NATO and warned Russia would face “severe consequences” if it were to launch a renewed invasion of Ukraine.
“We remain of course supportive of diplomacy as it relates to the dialogue and discussions we’ve had with Russia, but we are also committed to taking corrective actions to ensure there will be severe consequences in terms of the sanctions we have discussed, and we know the alliance is strong in that regard,” Harris said in Munich.
Harris will also meet jointly with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on Friday and is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday.
The Biden administration has stepped up warnings in the last 24 hours that Russia is likely to invade Ukraine. Biden told reporters Thursday that he believed Russia would invade in the coming days, calling the threat “very high.”
Despite Russian claims that it was moving forces away from Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and NATO said that Moscow has added troops. Russia is also engaging in military exercises in Belarus, compounding the threat.
In total, Biden administration officials say that Russia has some 150,000 troops amassed at Ukraine’s border and in Belarus.
Speaking at the United Nations on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Russian plans to create a false pretext for invading Ukraine.
Tensions heightened on Thursday as Ukraine accused Russian-backed separatists of firing shells at a kindergarten and high school playground.
Biden spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday but there are no indications of plans for the two to speak again.
Updated at 8:55 a.m.
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