US President Joe Biden will hold a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in what is expected to be a highly consequential meeting for the two leaders amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, according to CNN.
According to a White House preview of the call, “The leaders will discuss a range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues. President Biden will underscore US concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States‘ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that talks between Biden and Putin will take place via a secure video link “behind closed doors.”
“We believe that it will be sufficiently extensive and lengthy video conference held via a secured communication channel. We expect it to be a long one,” Peskov added.
A day ahead of the US-Russia call, the Pentagon confirmed that it has continued to observe added military capability by Russian forces along the country’s border with Ukraine.
Russia has erected supply lines, including medical units and fuel, that could sustain a drawn-out conflict should Moscow choose to invade, two sources familiar with the latest intelligence assessments told CNN.
Recent US intelligence findings estimate Russia could begin a military offensive in Ukraine in a matter of months as it amasses up to 175,000 troops along the border. US officials in recent days have weighed whether to issue wide-reaching sanctions on Russia meant to deter Putin from launching an invasion into Ukraine.
The officials said final decisions hadn’t been made on whether and when to apply the new sanctions and said the Biden administration is currently in talks with European partners, many of whom have closer economic relationships with Russia in the hopes of coordinating action.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing that Biden “will be clear as we have conveyed publicly that we have been preparing a range of economic sanctions or economic options that could have a detrimental impact on the Russian economy.”
Putin relayed last week that he would call for specific agreements that would rule out any further NATO expansion eastward and deployment of its weaponry close to Russia’s borders. Should Putin tell Biden on Tuesday that NATO must not admit Ukraine as a member — as he is expected to do — Biden is not likely to accede to the demand.
Biden held a call with European allies Monday night to discuss “their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric,” according to a White House statement.