US President Joe Biden assured his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call on Sunday that the United States and its allies would “respond firmly” if Russia invaded its western neighbor Ukraine.
The call came days after Biden held his second session of talks in a month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid tensions on Russia’s border with Ukraine, where Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops.
US presidential spokeswoman Jen Psaki said – in a statement – that Biden also emphasized his Ukrainian counterpart the US commitment to “the principle of nothing about you without you,” apparently indicating that Washington would involve Kiev in any negotiations regarding Ukraine’s future.
Psaki added that Biden also assured Zelensky that the United States supports a solution to the Ukraine crisis through diplomatic efforts, including the high-level Russian-US talks scheduled to be held in Geneva on January 9-10.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian president was quick to express his gratitude for the “unwavering” US support for his country in the face of Russian threats.
“We appreciate the firm support of Ukraine” from the United States, Zelensky wrote in a tweet, noting that he and his American counterpart discussed “joint actions between Ukraine, the United States and partners, to maintain peace in Europe and prevent further escalation.”
Negotiations and warnings
On January 9, Russia and the United States will begin talks in Geneva on the Ukrainian issue, led by Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Ryabkov, to be followed on the 12th of the same month by a meeting between Russia and NATO, and then a meeting on the 13th, in The framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
And Biden announced last Friday that he had again warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, – during a phone call that took place between them on Thursday – against any attempt to invade Ukraine.
“I have made clear to President Putin that we will impose severe sanctions, and we will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies,” Biden said.
“We were clear, he cannot, I repeat, cannot invade Ukraine,” he added.
tension and communication
It was the second phone call between the two countries’ presidents in three weeks due to tensions over pro-Western Ukraine after Russian forces had amassed at its eastern border.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of massing tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s borders in preparation for a possible invasion.
For its part, Russia asserts that ensuring its security is achieved by preventing any expansion of NATO, which it considers an existential threat, and by putting an end to Western military activities, which it asserts are taking place close to its borders.
The Kremlin said that Putin expressed his “satisfaction” with the call, which took place last Thursday and lasted about 50 minutes, stressing that the new sanctions would constitute a “fatal mistake.”