As US diplomats scramble to flee Ukraine, President Joe Biden said Russia is about to spread misery across the country if it follows through with an invasion of its massive troop buildup.
Biden spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin for an hour on Saturday. Early Saturday, the State Department Announced that most US diplomatic personnel are being withdrawn from Ukraine, which is currently surrounded by some 130,000 Russian troops.
The call focused on “Russia’s military escalation on Ukraine’s borders,” according to a White House statement. read.
“President Biden was clear that if Russia launches a new invasion of Ukraine, the United States, along with our allies and partners, will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia.
“President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s position.
“President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios,” the readout said.
A senior administration official called the call “professional and substantive” but said there was “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has been unfolding for several weeks.” CNN informed.
“The two presidents have agreed that our teams will remain engaged in the coming days,” the official said. “Russia may decide to proceed with military action anyway. In fact, that’s a distinct possibility.”
The official said the United States remains “committed to keeping alive the possibility of de-escalation through diplomacy.”
“But we also have clear eyes on the prospects for that, given the obvious steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight, right before our eyes. The stakes are too high on this not to give Russia every opportunity to avoid an action that we believe would be catastrophic. So, as always, we continue down two paths.”
the official said Biden he made offers to assure Russia of his safety, but “it is unclear whether Russia is interested in pursuing its goals diplomatically.”
As for whether an invasion will actually take place, the official said, “I think the honest answer to that question is that we don’t have full visibility into President Putin’s decision-making.”
“But you know, we don’t base our assessment of this on what the Russians say publicly,” the official added.
“We base their assessment on what we’re seeing on the ground … which is a continued Russian buildup on the border with Ukraine, and no significant evidence of de-escalation, or really any interest in de-escalation.”
The official said the US will continue and even increase its support for ukraine to help it defend itself should Russian aggression escalate.
French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Putin for about 90 minutes on Saturday, according to washington post.
This article originally appeared on the western daily.