President Biden reportedly delivered a stern warning to Vladimir Putin during a two-hour call from the White House Tuesday, promising sanctions and leaving open the possibility of a military response if the Russian leader doesn’t stand down.
The White House and Kremlin have very different interpretations of the call. But one thing both sides agree on is that the two-hour discussion was tense, framed by warnings on what could come next.
Heavy artillery and snipers are now a part of the Russian military presence along the Ukrainian border.
During a two-hour video conference, aides said President Biden voiced “deep concerns” about the buildup of troops, and weapons, warning President Putin the U.S. will respond “with strong economic and other measures” if the escalation continues, leaving open the possibility of adding troops to the U.S. presence already on the ground in the region.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “It is those additional capabilities that are on the table in those countries should Russia move in Ukraine in a more decisive way.”
Putin claims that Ukraine is provoking the situation.
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said, “He doesn’t get to bully the people of an independent nation into submission.”
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said, “As I look at Russia, I’m concerned that their ambition does not stop with Ukraine.”
A readout of the call from the Kremlin indicated the Russian leader wants “legal guarantees” that “NATO won’t expand to the east” and that “offensive weapons” won’t be moved into place near the Russian border.
Former Ukraine Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said, “Negotiations cannot happen at the gun point because what Russia is trying to do, they’re trying to create a situation where some concessions are made.”
The world is watching and waiting for the next move in this game of diplomatic “chicken” between the White House and Kremlin.
Officials in the Ukraine are reportedly asking the U.S. for more equipment along with guidance and strategic help from U.S. military leaders.