In a high-stakes virtual meeting, U.S. President Joe Biden was straight down the line with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over Ukraine disputes on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Reuters reported that Biden warned Putin of economic and other measures if Russia continued the “military escalation” in Ukraine. There have been roughly 94,000 Russian troops deployed to the borders of Ukraine, spiking worries of invasion. 

“President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy,” the White House said in a statement.

A U.S. official suggested the economic penalties against Russia should be on its most prominent banks and how Russia may try to exchange roubles for dollars and other currencies. Nord Stream 2 pipeline and Russian Direct Investment Fund were also expected to be part of the action. 

According to Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Washington was ready to do what it did not do in 2014 when Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine. The U.S. then reacted softly to avoid escalated confrontation.

This time, Sullivan noted that the U.S. would aid Ukraine with “capabilities” or “deployments” if a conflict were issued. That would include defense aid from other allies as well. 

Responding to the threats, the Russian leader required “legally fixed” reassurance that NATO would refrain from eastward expansion. The Kremlin also alleged NATO was planning to extend Ukrainian territory and wanted missile systems to be kept away from nations around Russia. 

Sullivan said the U.S. President made no commitments to limit NATO’s buildup in Ukraine.

“He stands by the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose who they associate with,” Sullivan said.

Reuters noted the two hours-long talks failed to extract any breakthrough, and both leaders were ready for further negotiations. 

The Kremlin had not admitted that Russia was planning an invasion despite thousands of troops’ presence in the borders.

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