President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the US and its allies will respond "decisively and impose swift and severe consequences" on Russia should Putin decide to invade Ukraine.In a roughly hour-long phone call, the White House said Biden made clear to Putin what he would be risking with an invasion. A senior administration official told reporters following the call that the discussion was substantive but the US fears Russia may still launch a military attack anyway."President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia. President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia's standing," the White House said in a statement, adding Biden "was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios."The call between the two leaders comes hours after the US moved some of its forces out of Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff on Saturday as fears mount that a Russian invasion of the country could take place in the next few days. The moves were yet another sign that the US fears Putin could order an invasion at any time, just one day after Biden's national security adviser warned Americans in Ukraine to leave and that military action could begin with an aerial bombardment that could kill civilians.A senior administration official told reporters Saturday afternoon that the call between the two presidents was "professional and substantive," but "there was no fundamental change in the dynamic that has been unfolding now for several weeks.""The two Presidents agreed that our teams will stay engaged in the days ahead," the official told reporters after the call. "Russia may decide to proceed with military action anyway. Indeed, that is a distinct possibility."
Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov described the call Saturday as "balanced and businesslike," but said the US and NATO had failed to address Russia's main security concerns.Ushakov said the conversation "took place in an atmosphere of hysteria about the supposedly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine by American officials, everyone knows this."Ushakov added: "The pressure around the topic of the invasion was carried out in a coordinated manner and the hysteria has reached its climax."According to Ushakov, Biden told Putin he was "committed to the diplomatic path and had laid out a range of considerations that he sees as addressing many of Russia's concerns." Putin said the US and its allies had been "pumping up" Ukraine with new weaponry and encouraging provocations by Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region and in Crimea, Ushakov said.The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had on Friday accused Western countries and the press of spreading a "large-scale disinformation campaign" about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine "in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions."
"At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the global information space faced a media campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the world community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine," the Ministry said in a statement published on its website.