President Biden and Vladimir Putin to hold talks on Thursday as Ukraine tensions rise

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  • Vladimir Putin
    Vladimir Putin
    President of Russia
  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak on Thursday as the Russian leader steps up his demands for security guarantees in Eastern Europe.

The two leaders will discuss “a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

The talks come after US officials raised the alarm over a build up of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

It has fuelled fears that Moscow is preparing to invade the country in the New Year, which Mr Putin denies. Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 and has backed separatists fighting Kyiv troops in eastern Ukraine.

Ms Horne said the President had already spoken with leaders across Europe about the situation on the border, while officials were also in touch with NATO and the European Union.

Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

The demands were rebuffed by the US and its allies, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any qualifying country. However, Washington have agreed to talks to discuss Russia’s concerns.

"We are at a moment of crisis and have been for some weeks now given the Russian build-up, and it will take a high level of engagement to address this and to find a path of de-escalation," a US government official told the Reuters news agency.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Mr Blinken “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders.”

Conversations between Mr Putin and Mr Biden are likely to touch on other issues, too, including the ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program, a U.S. official said.

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