In a video conference on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the invasion of Ukraine would lead to severe economic sanctions by the United States and several European allies.
This virtual meeting is the second direct meeting between the leaders of the two countries since the summit in Geneva in June. Prior to this, Putin mobilized about 100,000 Russian troops on the country’s border with Ukraine, sparking new concerns about invasion.
“President Biden expressed the deep concern of the United States and our European allies over Russia’s military escalation around Ukraine, and made it clear that if the military escalates, the United States and our allies will take strong economic and other measures to respond,” According to a statement. The conference call issued by the White House after the announcement.
During the meeting, Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for easing the situation and resuming diplomacy. The statement said: “The two presidents instructed their teams to follow up, and the United States will closely coordinate with allies and partners.”
The leaders of the two countries also discussed the long-term work of the United States and Russia on arms control, ransomware, and joint efforts on regional issues such as Iran.
Putin seeks to ensure that NATO will not allow Ukraine to become a member of this long-term alliance, which currently has 30 member states, including the United States, which fundamentally guarantees the military defense of the former Soviet Republic.
Although Biden rejected Putin’s “red lines” and expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, he has little interest in fully supporting his potential NATO membership. Although the President has been seeking to strengthen the Democratic Alliance, he seems to be cautious about the United States assuming additional global defense responsibilities because he focuses on supporting the US economy and repositioning the alliance around containing China.
But he hopes to dissuade Putin from escalating the brewing military conflict on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Before discussing with Putin, Biden held discussions with top European allies on Monday night about the profound economic sanctions that may be triggered by any invasion.
“The leaders emphasized their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said in a statement summarizing the call. “They agreed that their team will maintain close contact, including consultations with NATO allies and EU partners, in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.”
The White House said that for this reason, Biden plans to report to the four major European leaders on another conference call on Tuesday night to let allies understand the nature of his talks with Putin.
Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then it has been seeking to strengthen its ties with Europe. After the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stepped down, Putin captured the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, and tensions continued to rise.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.