WASHINGTON – In a video call President Biden warned Russian President Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the United States will impose economic sanctions and provide weapons to the Ukrainians.
The over two hour call comes amidst raising tensions between Ukraine and Russia as Russian troops amass on the Ukrainian border. Russia has denied a plan to invade the country and warned against any NATO military action in Ukraine, according to Al Jazeera.
“[Biden] reiterated America’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He told President Putin directly that if Russia further invades Ukraine the United States and our European allies would respond with economic measures,” Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser said.
In 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly tried to lay claim to large areas of Ukrainian territory that he says have an historic connection to Russia.
“I will look you in the eye and tell you as President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he does not think Putin has made a decision on whether to invade Ukraine, and did not provide details on sanctions the US is prepared to impose or weaponry that would be provided to the Ukrainians.
Putin accused NATO of “making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory.” And the Kremlin stated the president wants legal guarantees NATO will not expand any further east.
Soon after the call, Congress released the annual defense bill text that includes $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine.
Biden also voiced his concerns of Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine, telling the Russian President the US and European Allies will respond with economic sanctions in the event of military escalation, the White House said after the meeting.
During the call there was also discussion of cyber attacks, strategic stability and joint work on regional issues, like Iran’s nuclear program.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the country’s “unwavering” support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday.
“The two agreed on the need for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the conflict in the Donbas and the full restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty over its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea,” said spokesperson Ned Price.
CIA Director William Burns said Putin is placing Russian military and security services in a place, which could be used against Ukraine at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit Monday.
“I would never underestimate President Putin’s risk appetite on Ukraine,” Burns said.