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POTUS Warns Putin of ‘Severe Costs’ Of Ukraine Invasion

POTUS Warns Putin of ‘Severe Costs’ Of Ukraine Invasion

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader was driven from office by a popular uprising. Moscow responded by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and then backing a rebel insurgency in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people. A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped halt large-scale battles, but regular skirmishes have continued, and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.

President Joe Biden told Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Saturday that invading Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis but “equally prepared for other scenarios,” the White House said. It offered no suggestion that the hourlong call diminished the threat of an imminent war in Europe. President Biden also said the United States and its allies would respond “decisively and impose swift and severe costs” if the Kremlin attacked its neighbor, according to the White House.

The two leaders spoke a day after President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that U.S. intelligence shows a Russian invasion could begin within days and before the Winter Olympics in Beijing end on February 20th. Before talking to President Biden, Putin had a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the crisis. A Kremlin summary of the call suggested that little progress was made toward cooling down the tensions.

The conversation came at a critical moment for what has become the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. U.S. officials believe they have “mere days” to prevent an invasion. And while the U.S. and its NATO allies have no plans to send troops to Ukraine to fight Russia, an invasion and resulting punishing sanctions could reverberate far beyond the former Soviet republic, affecting energy supplies, global markets, and the power balance in Europe.

 

Russia denies it intends to invade but has massed well over 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, encircling Ukraine on three sides. U.S. officials say Russia’s buildup of firepower has reached the point where it could invade on short notice.

Putin complained in the call that the United States and NATO have not responded satisfactorily to Russian demands that Ukraine should be prohibited from joining the military alliance. Putin also demanded that NATO pull back forces from Eastern Europe.

Further U.S.-Russia tensions arose on Saturday when the Defense Ministry summoned the U.S. embassy’s military attache after it said the navy detected an American submarine in Russian waters near the Kuril Islands in the Pacific. The submarine declined orders to leave, but departed after the navy used unspecified “appropriate means,” the ministry said.

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