President Biden’s 1-hour long phone call with Putin Saturday morning seemed to provide no major breakthroughs, with officials still worried of an invasion into Ukraine.
The White House announced this weekend call on Friday evening after a news briefing with White House media secretary Jen Psaki and Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor. The White House said Russia asked to speak this Monday, but their counter-proposal for this Saturday was “accepted” by Vladimir Putin.
The call, which is in line with Sullivan warning about the “very real possibility” of a Russian invasion, was described by a top administration official as “substantive and professional.” Still, the official said there is “no fundamental change in the dynamic that unfolded now for many weeks.”
“We believe we have put ideas that is in our and our allies interest to follow that would increase European security,” the official said as he warned that it is “unclear” whether Russia is wants to pursue a diplomatic path.
“The stakes are too high not to award Russia every option to avoid anything that would be catastrophic,” the official said.
Biden was “very direct” to Vladimir Putin about the safety of Americans who have stayed in Ukraine, the official said. Sullivan stated Friday that Americans should leave Ukraine “as quickly as possible,” giving the specific idea of leaving within “the next 48 hours.”
“We cannot pinpoint the day or hour, but we know there is a good prospect that Russian military action could happen before the end of the Olympics,” Sullivan stated during Friday’s media briefing.
Biden reiterated some of Sullivan’s ideas during the Saturday’s call, according to a new readout of the call given by the White House. The president at one time said the “widespread suffering” that would happen if Russia invades Ukraine – something Sullivan emphasized to journalists one day before.
Biden also emphasized to the Russian President that an invasion of Ukraine would create a decisive reaction from the United States and its partners. The president warned Vladimir Putin that though he is still “working to engage in diplomacy,” the United States is “equally working for other scenarios.”
“Should Russia go down the path of escalation, the U.S. will continue to give support to Ukraine to defend itself. That approach is not changing,” the top administration official added after the Biden-Putin call.