Biden and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy speak amid Russia’s military buildup

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President Biden spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday afternoon as Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine heightens tensions in the region.

A White House readout of the call said Mr. Biden “reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.” The call comes a day after the U.S. delivered a response to Russia’s demands, suggesting some room for progress on things like arms control in Europe, but remaining firm on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“President Biden made clear that despite the departure of American family members of embassy personnel, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, remains open and fully operational,” the White House readout of the call said. “The leaders discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security, underscoring the principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.'”

Later, Mr. Biden tweeted some tough talk, continuing Washington’s firm stand, saying the U.S. would “respond decisively — along with our Allies and partners — if Russia further invades Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy tweeted that he had a “long phone conversation” with Mr. Biden, in which they “discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
President Biden gestures as he meets with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office at the White House in September 1, 2021.

JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS


“Thanked President @JoeBiden for the ongoing military assistance. Possibilities for financial support to Ukraine were also discussed,” Zelenskyy said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has wanted a commitment that NATO will rule out admitting Ukraine or its neighbors as members of the alliance, while pulling forces back from Russia’s borders.Russia has asked for time to review the United States’ response to its demands.

“Well, I think as you’ve heard our Secretary of State and our national security adviser and others convey we don’t know if the Russians are playing games on diplomacy, we hope not,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.  

As of Thursday, 8,500 U.S. troops remain on heightened alert, should the North Atlantic Treaty Organization determine they’re needed. 





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