Biden will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, discuss Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, and review preparations for upcoming diplomatic engagements to help de-escalate the situation in the region,” according to a White House official.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, said in a statement that he looked forward to speaking to Biden “to coordinate our steps for the sake of peace in Ukraine and security in Europe.”
Biden last spoke with Zelensky last month, when he promised no decisions or discussions would be made “about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
Biden talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week for nearly an hour.
According to the White House, Biden attempted to de-escalate the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union.
“I made it clear to President Putin that if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies, and it will have to be a heavy price to pay for it,” Biden told reporters on Friday in Wilmington, Delaware, where he and First Lady Jill Biden retreat to virtually every weekend.
“We laid out some of his concerns about NATO and the United States and Europe, and we laid out ours. And we said we’d begin to negotiate some of those issues. But I made it clear that they only could work if, in fact, he deescalated, not escalated, the situation there,” Biden added.
Russia has amassed troops at its border with Ukraine in recent weeks with estimates of more than 90,000 along the border and in Russian-annexed Crimea.
Russia has also repeatedly said Ukraine must not join NATO, a bloc of mostly European countries.
The United States and its allies, though, have refused to offer Russia any guarantees, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any qualifying country.
Biden was vice president when Russia invaded Crimea. The Obama administration did not take military action but imposed sanctions on Russian leadership over the move.
U.S. officials are set to meet in person with Russian counterparts in Geneva later this month to go over sticking points in ongoing negotiations. The talks “will be supervised by the two presidents personally,” Yuri Ushakov, a Putin aide, told reporters on Friday.
“Biden mentioned that if tension along Ukraine’s borders keeps escalating, Western countries will impose large-scale sanctions in economic, finance, and military spheres,” Ushakov said. “But our president immediately responded that if the West decides in this or other circumstances to impose the unprecedented sanctions mentioned, that could lead to a complete breakdown in ties between our countries and cause the most severe damage to relations between Russia and the West.”
Nick Ciolino contributed to this report.