(CNN) – US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a virtual summit on Tuesday amid rising tension over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The meeting began 10 minutes later ET, according to a US official, and lasted two hours and a minute, according to the White House.
Biden expressed his “deep concern for the United States” and its European allies “over Russia’s escalation of forces around Ukraine” and made clear to Putin that the United States and its allies “will respond with strong economic and other measures to the possibility of a military escalation,” according to a reading of the White House appeal.
President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for its downsizing and a return to diplomacy. The two presidents have assigned their teams to follow up, and the United States will do so in close coordination with allies and partners.”
The two leaders also discussed “the US-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, a separate dialogue on ransomware, as well as joint work on regional issues such as Iran.”
The call lasted two hours and a minute. Biden shared the call from the White House Crisis Room, while Putin did so from his Sochi residence.
Russian state television broadcast the first images of the video call between Biden and Putin.
You can hear Biden and Putin greeting each other. The Russian President was heard saying, “Greetings, Mr. President.”
In the clip released by state media, Biden said, “Hey, nice to see you again. Unfortunately, the last time we didn’t get to see each other at the G-20. I hope next time we meet we can meet in person.”
A translator can be heard translating Biden’s comments to Putin.
The summit represents one of the most important calls from the Biden presidency, as it receives dire warnings from the US intelligence community that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. Ukraine next month.
In recent months, Russia has established supply lines, including fuel and medical units, that could sustain a protracted conflict if Moscow decides to invade Ukraine, two sources familiar with the latest intelligence assessments told CNN. In addition, the latest data from US intelligence services estimate that Russia could launch a military attack in Ukraine within months, as up to 175,000 soldiers have gathered along the border.
Biden planned to expose Putin to sanctions and other actions the United States could take if the Russian president decided to invade Ukraine. The US intelligence community believes Putin has not yet made up his mind to launch a military attack against Ukraine, and Biden plans to tell Putin the US is ready to take “significant counter-economic measures” aimed at inflicting “significant and severe economic damage” to the economy, a senior Russian administration official said Monday. Russia “in case Putin goes ahead with a military escalation.”
The two leaders had participated in a summit in Geneva last June. His last public call was in July.
On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed that it continues to see “additional military capability” for Russian forces along the country’s border with Ukraine.
“What we continue to see is the capability that President Putin continues to add, the added military capability in the western part of his country and around Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
In recent days, the US authorities have considered the possibility of imposing far-reaching sanctions on Russia, in order to dissuade Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine. These include new measures against members of Putin’s inner circle and against Russian energy producers, as well as a possible “nuclear option”: disconnecting Russia from the international SWIFT payment system, which is used by banks around the world.
Officials said no final decisions have been made on whether and when the new sanctions will be applied, noting that the Biden government is currently in talks with European partners — many of whom have closer economic ties with Russia — in hopes of coordinating the measure.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s briefing that Biden “will be clear – as we have publicly stated – that we are preparing a series of economic sanctions or economic options that could have a detrimental effect on the Russian economy.”
The administration is also considering options for a possible evacuation of US citizens from Ukraine if Russia invades the country and creates a dire security situation, half a dozen sources told CNN. The sources said contingency planning is being led by the Pentagon, and it comes as the administration briefs Congress on how the United States is prepared.
In a “bleak” briefing for senators by Victoria Nuland, a senior State Department official on Monday night, Nuland outlined the tough package of sanctions the administration is preparing in response to a possible Russian attack, but acknowledged US options to deter the invasion. Very limited, a person familiar with the briefing said.
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