In a Call, Biden Warns Putin About 'Severe Cost'

Russia says US is overreacting about possibility of Ukraine invasion
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2022 1:55 PM CST
Biden, Putin Talk About Ukraine Standoff
U.S. troops of the 82nd Airborne Division set up camp Saturday at a military airport in Mielec, Poland.   (AP Photo/Beata Zawrzel)

In an hourlong phone call Saturday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that though the US is prepared to keep working toward a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Ukraine, "we are equally prepared for other scenarios." A White House statement said, "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." Such a step by Russia "would produce widespread human suffering," the statement said, per the Washington Post.

An administration official said that the conversation was substantive, per the Hill, but that "there was no fundamental change in the dynamic." An aide to Putin described the call as "businesslike" but dominated by what he called US hysteria over fears of an invasion. There were other phone calls Saturday. France reported that President Emmanuel Macron and Putin talked for more than 90 minutes. Russia said Putin also spoke to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus and Russia are conducting large military exercises that could turn into an attack on Ukraine. In their call, Biden also warned Putin that invading Ukraine would diminish Russia's standing in the world.

Russia said its diplomatic staff is leaving Ukraine, as is the US corps. A spokesperson said the move was out concern for “possible provocations by the Kyiv regime and third countries." In Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has sought close ties between Hungary and Russia, joined the calls Saturday for a peaceful settlement. Orban said in a speech that it's in Hungary's interest to "avoid war." A Russian invasion of Ukraine could send refugees fleeing into his country and damage the economy, he said, per the AP. He also spoke against punishing Russia with "sanctions, punitive policies, lecturing or any other kind of arrogance on the part of the great powers." (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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