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Biden warns Putin of sanctions, aid for Ukraine military if Russia invades


US President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the West would impose strong economic and other measures on Russia if it invades Ukraine, while Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand farther eastward, according to Reuters. 

After two hours of talks on the escalating crisis caused by Russia’s massing of tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine, Biden delivered a simple message during Tuesday’s video call with Putin: “invade Ukraine again and face painful sanctions that will do resounding harm to your economy,” AP News reports. 

Putin had his own blunt take, according to his foreign adviser Yuri Ushakov, telling the U.S. president that “the Russian troops are on their own territory, and they don’t threaten anyone.”

Putin responded to the warning with a demand for reliable, legally binding guarantees against NATO expansion eastward and complained about NATO attempts to “develop” Ukrainian territory,” the Kremlin said.

The White House stated that Biden did not make any guarantees to limit NATO expansion with regard to Ukraine.

“I will tell you clearly and directly he made no such commitments or concessions. He stands by the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose who they associate with,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

No breakthroughs were reported but both sides agreed to continue communications, a development that could lower global tensions.

The Kremlin has denied harboring any intention to attack Ukraine and has said a troop buildup on its southern border is defensive, but neighboring nations are sounding alarms.

Biden warned Putin he could face stiff economic sanctions, the disruption of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, and that the United States and European allies would provide additional defensive capabilities to Ukraine.

The president “made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a statement.

In case of an attack, the United States would be looking to respond positively if Baltic allies ask for additional U.S. “capabilities” or “deployments,” he said.

The Kremlin said Putin told Biden it was wrong to put all the responsibility on Russia’s shoulders for current tensions. Putin also called for guarantees that offensive strike systems would not be deployed in countries close to Russia, according to the Kremlin

Both sides say they hope the two leaders can hold an in-person summit to discuss ties between the two nations, which have long-standing differences over Syria, U.S. economic sanctions and alleged Russian cyberattacks on U.S. companies.