On Saturday, the White House released a readout of President Joe Biden’s morning phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The call comes as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to escalate.
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia about Russia’s escalating military buildup on the borders of Ukraine. 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. President 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.
According to The Hill, the phone call took place over the course of about an hour.
On Friday evening, it was reported that the Biden administration was preparing to order “American staff at the Kyiv embassy” to depart Ukraine immediately.
On Saturday, the State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory, writing in part:
Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means. If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action.
The travel advisory continued, noting that the State Department had indeed ordered “most U.S. direct hire employees” to leave the Kyiv embassy, and that beginning on Sunday, consular activities in Kyiv will be suspended.
The order added that while a small contingent of consular staff will be present in Lviv, Ukraine, which is approximately 291 miles west of Kyiv, for emergency scenarios, “the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine.”
On Friday, during a White House press briefing, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan took questions on the Russia/Ukraine situation. One reporter asked about the NATO Response Force as it pertains to American personnel, and Sullivan said that U.S. service members are not being sent to engage in direct fighting with Russia.
“But I want to be very clear about something: These deployments of U.S. service members to Poland, to Romania, to Germany — these are not soldiers who are being sent to go fight Russia in Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “They are not going to war in Ukraine. They are not going to war with Russia. They’re going to defend NATO territory, consistent with our Article 5 obligation. They are defensive deployments. They are non-escalatory. They are meant to reinforce, reassure, and deter aggression against NATO territory.”
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