Biden, Putin to discuss Ukraine crisis in new call

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had assured him of ‘full US support for Ukraine in countering Russian aggression’

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will talk by telephone, with the US leader expected to offer Putin a ‘diplomatic path’ out of tensions around Ukraine

US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will speak Thursday in a latest effort to defuse tensions surrounding Moscow’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine.

It will be the second telephone call in less than a month between the two leaders, with Biden in early December warning Putin of “severe consequences” if Russian troops invaded.

“But we are also prepared to respond if Russia advances with a further invasion of Ukraine,” Biden will tell Putin, the official said, adding that Washington remained “gravely concerned” about the military build-up and wanted to see the Russian forces return β€œto their regular training areas.”

– US support for Ukraine –

In a potential step to defuse tensions, senior US and Russian officials plan to meet on January 10 in Geneva.

The United States has called some of the Russian positions non-starters but said it is willing to talk and will also bring up its own concerns.

The administration official made clear there were no plans for another in-person summit.

Ahead of the US-Russia talks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Blinken also spoke separately to his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany on “coordination to deter any further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The Biden administration has vowed to take all actions in lockstep with its European allies. Following the Geneva talks, Russian delegates will meet with delegates of the NATO alliance ahead of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a key Cold War forum that brings together Moscow and the West.

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