“No Fundamental Change” In Russia-Ukraine Situation, But Russia Military Action Still Is “A Distinct Possibility”

Mandel Ngan and Mikhail Metzel/AFP/Getty Images

It has recently been reported by Fox News that President Biden held a high-stakes hour-long phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday, amid dire warnings from the United States for Americans to evacuate Ukraine over the fears of an imminent Russian invasion

Biden pressed for a de-escalation of the border tensions and warned of “swift and severe costs” on Russia should it invade Ukraine, but the call ended with little change, according to the White House. 

“The call between the two presidents was professional and substantive [and] it lasted a bit over an hour,” a senior administration official said after the call Saturday. “There was no fundamental change in the dynamic that has been unfolding now for several weeks.”

Biden reiterated the consequences to Putin should it invade Ukraine and offered ideas for diplomatic solutions. Still, “it remains unclear whether Russia is interested in pursuing its goals diplomatically as opposed to through the use of force,” the official said, adding Russian military action in Ukraine is still “a distinct possibility. 

The secure call began at 11:04 a.m. from Camp David and ended at 12:06 p.m, according to the White House. The Russians proposed holding the call on Monday, but the Biden administration wanted an earlier call as U.S. officials say there are increasing signs that Russia may launch a military invasion into neighboring Ukraine. 

The White House says it’s preparing for both scenarios of ongoing diplomatic talks and an invasion. 

“We’re also clear-eyed about the prospect of that given the readily apparent steps Russia is
taking on the ground in plain sight right before our eyes,” the senior administration official said Saturday.

“The stakes of this are too high not to give Russia every chance to avoid an action that we believe would be catastrophic.”

Earlier Saturday the State Department ordered non-emergency personnel at the Embassy in Kyiv to evacuate, hours after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Americans to get out of the country.

“As we’ve said before, we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time, should Vladimir Putin decide to order it,” Sullivan said at a White House news briefing.

Putin also got an earful earlier Saturday from French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

A Kremlin summary of the call suggested that little progress was made toward cooling down the tensions, with the statement downplaying the border buildup as “provocative speculations regarding the allegedly planned Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine.”

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