Conflicts & War

Biden, Putin to discuss Ukraine on Saturday

Madrid Desk, Feb 11 (EFE).- The presidents of the United States and Russia plan to speak by telephone Saturday about the situation in Ukraine, a senior US official confirmed to Efe.

Moscow originally suggested that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin should talk next Monday, but agreed to Washington’s request to move up the call, the source said.

Biden is to receive the call before noon (17:00 GMT) Saturday at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

The two leaders last spoke directly on Dec. 30 and the tensions surrounding Ukraine have grown since then to the point that the US and other NATO governments said Friday that their citizens should leave Ukraine as soon as possible.

During a meeting Friday in Melbourne with the foreign ministers of India, Japan and Australia, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: “we continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.”

“We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time and, that includes during the Olympics,” he added.

The Winter Games are due to wrap up on Feb. 20.

His remarks follow an advisory issued by the State Department urging US citizens in Ukraine to “depart now” due to “the increased threats of Russian military action.”

“Russia has all the forces it needs to conduct a major military action,” the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Friday. “Russia could choose, in very short order, to commence a major military action against Ukraine.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the US of fear-mongering.

“The hysteria of the White House is more indicative than ever,” she said. “The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At any cost. Provocations, misinformation and threats are a favorite method of solving their own problems.”

In an interview with NBC broadcast on Thursday, Biden told American citizens in Ukraine to “leave now” because “things could go crazy quickly.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg traveled Friday to a military base in Romania that has been reinforced with fighter jets from Germany and Italy and an additional deployment of 1,000 US troops in what he called “a powerful demonstration of trans-Atlantic unity.”

“There is a real risk of a new armed conflict in Europe,” he warned.

Russia and Belarus, which also shares a long border with Ukraine, stepped up their joint military exercises Friday with tests to repel an air attack with live fire.

Ukraine’s defense minister, meanwhile, thanked the US for its continued support, posting images on Twitter of the delivery of more military hardware.

“Birds are flying! Another 90 tons of USA ammunition arrived today. The total weight of US military aid at the moment exceeded 1300 tons!,” Oleksii Reznikov said. EFE int-ks/jt/dr

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