U.S. President Joe Biden told Russia’s Vladimir Putin that invading Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis but “equally prepared for other scenarios,” the White House said on Saturday.
The White House offered no suggestion that the hour-long call diminished the threat of an imminent war in Europe.
Biden also said the United States and its allies would respond “decisively and impose swift and severe costs” if the Kremlin attacked its neighbour, according to the White House.
The two leaders spoke the day after Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that U.S. intelligence shows that a Russian invasion could begin within days, before the Winter Olympics in Beijing end on Feb. 20.
Russia denies it intends to invade but has massed well over 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and has sent troops to exercises in neighbouring Belarus, encircling Ukraine on three sides. U.S. officials say Russia’s buildup of firepower has reached the point where it could invade on short notice.