President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak by telephone on Tuesday as tensions between the U.S. and Russia escalate over a Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border seen as a sign of a potential invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed plans on Saturday for the much-anticipated call and said it will take place in the evening.
Russia is more adamant than ever that the U.S. guarantees that Ukraine will not be admitted to the NATO military alliance. U.S. intelligence officials, meanwhile, have determined that Russia has massed about 70,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has begun planning for a possible invasion as soon as early next year, according to a Biden administration official who was not authorized to discuss that finding publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The risks for Putin of going through with such an invasion would be enormous.
U.S. officials and former American diplomats say while the Russian president is clearly laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, Ukraine’s military is better armed and prepared today than in the past, and that sanctions threatened by the West would do serious damage to the Russian economy.