Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden will hold a phone call next week about the increasing military tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Washington has warned that Moscow could launch a war in the early 2022. After a meeting of high-ranking Russian and American diplomats this week, Biden will speak to the two presidents on Tuesday. According to the White House, Biden will convey “US concerns about Russian military activities along the border with Ukraine” and “reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” On Friday, the US warned that Russia might be planning an invasion of Ukraine with 175,000 troops. Moscow denies any plans to attack the country and called the warnings incendiary. Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, stated that the Pentagon was still concerned about the border situation. Austin stated that the number of troops in the border region and some of the events that are taking place in the information space raises concerns.
When Russia sent thousands of troops to Ukraine in April, shortly after fears about an invasion soared. But they did not invade. When Austin was asked how worried he was that Putin wasn’t bluffing this year, he replied, “They have invaded previously”, referring to the Russian annexation in 2014 of Crimea. Austin stated that the US is “committed” to Ukraine’s defense of its sovereign territory. He noted that Washington had provided Kyiv previously with both lethal and non-lethal weaponry and that they were looking to offer additional support. Austin spoke out about the call between the leaders and said that there was plenty of room for diplomacy, leadership, and cooperation to solve the crisis. “We will continue to engage with our allies. . . Our partners in the region. We will continue to do all we can to provide Ukraine with the ability to protect their sovereign territories.” A Biden administration official stated that Moscow’s plans “calls for a military attack against Ukraine as soon early as 2022 with a scale twice what we saw last spring when Russia rapidly built-up its military forces near Ukraine’s borders.” The plan would see the “extensive movement by 100 battalion tactical units with approximately 175,000 personnel, as well as armor and artillery, together with equipment. The administration official stated that half of the units had arrived within the last month and were now near Ukraine’s borders. Russia had already established a “ready reserve contract reservists” in preparation for the offensive.
Biden stated that he was aware of Russia’s actions since Friday night and that he would be attending the Camp David presidential retreat on Friday evening. A spokesperson for Russia’s embassy in Washington stated: “Russia isn’t a threat to any nation. The deployment of Russian troops onto the territory of a country is within our sovereign rights and not anyone’s. Nato and its member countries are the ones who recklessly move their military forces and infrastructure towards Russian borders.
The Washington Post first reported details of the US assessment of Russia’s plans. This was just hours after Biden stated that he was in constant contact with European allies as well as Ukraine regarding the threat. Biden warned that he would stop Putin from implementing these plans and suggested punitive measures. “What I’m doing is putting together my beliefs. . . “Will be the most comprehensive, meaningful and significant set of initiatives to make sure that Mr Putin does not go ahead with the things people fear him doing,” said the US president. Biden said, “But that’s in effect right now.”
The National Security Council stated that Washington was “deeply worried by evidence Russia is stepping up its plans for significant military actions against Ukraine”. This was in addition to the fact that Antony Blinken was on a recent trip to Europe and had discussed this issue with him. The NSC stated that the Biden administration had been consistent in its message to Russia, stating that the United States doesn’t seek conflict and that diplomacy and de-escalation are the best ways to avoid a crisis and a spiral in the wider relationship. Some European officials were surprised by the strength of the US intelligence assessment. Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic spent weeks comparing their assessments. As part of a diplomatic effort to discourage Putin from acting, the Biden administration is trying to highlight the dangers of a Ukraine invasion.