U.S. president Joe Biden (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.

U.S. president Joe Biden (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Peter Klaunzer - Pool / Keystone via Getty Images

Biden to Phone Putin, Lay Out the Economic Consequences of Invading Ukraine

The president has been talking with European allies to craft a united sanctions plan to deliver “significant, severe harm,” a senior administration official said.

The United States and European allies have a plan to impose “significant, severe harm” on the Russian economy if Moscow decides to invade Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters on Monday. 

In a planned video call on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden will lay out the economic consequences if Russia takes military action against Ukraine, the official said. 

Asked whether Biden will tell Putin that the United States could use military force to respond to an invasion of Ukraine, the official said the administration’s strategy will focus on sanctions as well as support for the Ukrainian military and NATO allies.

“I don’t want to use a public press call to talk about the particular sensitive challenges that President Biden will lay out for President Putin, but I would say that the United States is not seeking to end up in a circumstance in which the focus of our countermeasures is the direct use of American military force,” the official said. 

Biden’s secure video call with Putin will come as Moscow has stationed up to 175,000 troops and military equipment along the Russia-Ukraine border. In addition to the troop build-up, the senior administration official said there is an uptick in Russian propaganda that portrays Ukraine as an aggressive adversary, which also happened in 2014 just before Moscow invaded Crimea. 

Ahead of the call, Biden is speaking with European allies to ensure his message to Putin has transatlantic support. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the call, while Biden will speak with the Ukrainian leader after the call “to be sure that he can read it out,” the official said. 

The president seems determined to get the backing of European allies and present a united front to Putin. Senior American intelligence officials have also briefed European partners on what they are seeing around Ukraine at NATO and in European capitals. 

“We have had intensive discussions with our European partners about what we would do collectively in the event of a major Russian military escalation in Ukraine. We believe we have a path forward that would involve substantial economic countermeasures by both the Europeans and the United States,” the official said. 

During the call, Putin is expected to demand a binding assurance that Ukraine won’t be allowed to join NATO. Kiev is not a member of the alliance, but members signaled at a 2008 summit that it will eventually join. 

When asked if that is something on which Biden is willing to negotiate, the senior administration official said the president “won’t accept anyone’s red lines.” 

“The United States has consistently expressed support for the principle that every country has the sovereign right to make its own decisions with respect to its security,” the official said. “We will of course support discussions between NATO and Russia to address larger issues of concern….But we don’t think talk of red lines is helpful.” 

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