President Joe Biden held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday amid growing fears that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, The New York Times reports.
Biden and Putin had a virtual meeting on Tuesday, where Biden was expected to threaten crippling economic sanctions if Russia goes ahead with the invasion. US intelligence says that Russia is building up 175,000 troops for a potential invasion early next year.
“We’ve consulted significantly with our allies and believe we have a path forward that would impose significant and severe harm on the Russian economy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “You can call that a threat. You can call that a fact. You can call that preparation. You can call it whatever you want to call it.”
Ukrainian officials say Russia is already sending tanks and snipers to eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists have tried to “provoke” fire. Ukraine has also alleged that Russia is holding “training camps under the leadership of regular servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.”
Russia has denied that it is planning an invasion but Putin has claimed that Ukraine poses a security risk to his country, citing its military ties with the United States and Europe.
Biden was expected to urge Russia to deescalate the situation and possibly alleviate Putin’s purported concern that Ukraine poses a threat by buying US-made weapons and taking advice from US military officials.
Along with the troop buildup, Russia has launched a disinformation and cyberattack campaign in Ukraine.
US intelligence officials believe that Putin has not decided whether to invade Ukraine.
US would send troops to Eastern Europe:
A senior US official told The Guardian that the US would send troops to Eastern Europe if Russia attacked.
“It would certainly be the case that if Putin moved in, there would be an increasing request from eastern flank allies, and a positive response from the United States, for additional forces and capabilities and exercises to take place there to ensure the safety and security of our eastern flank allies in the face of that kind of aggression in Ukraine,” the official said.
“The United States is not seeking to end up in a circumstance in which the focus on our countermeasures is the direct use of American military force, as opposed to a combination of support for the Ukrainian military, strong economic countermeasures, and a substantial increase in support and capability to our Nato allies to ensure that they remain safe,” the official added.