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Biden says he warned Putin of ‘heavy price’ over Ukraine

The US and Russian leaders exchanged warnings
over Ukraine in a 50-minute call on Thursday to address Russian military
actions.

“I made clear to President Putin that if
he makes any more moves, if he goes into Ukraine, we will have severe
sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe, with our NATO allies, and
there will be a heavy price to pay for it,” Biden told reporters as he
left a Wilmington, Delaware, restaurant.

Biden says Putin agreed on “three major
conferences” next month with senior staff to help find a resolution and
said he expected progress from those negotiations. However, he added, “I
made it clear that it only could work if he de-escalated.”

Asked if Moscow faces sanctions if it kept
troops on the border, Biden said, “I’m not going to negotiate here in
public but we made it clear that he cannot – emphasise cannot – move on
Ukraine.”

Biden will speak with Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday, a White house official said earlier on Friday.

He will reaffirm support for Ukraine, discuss
Russia’s military buildup and review preparations for diplomatic efforts to
calm the situation in the region, the official said.

The Biden-Putin exchange set the stage for
lower-level engagement between the countries that includes the US-Russia
security meeting on Jan 9-10, followed by a Russia-NATO session on Jan 12, and
a broader conference including Moscow, Washington and other European countries
on Jan 13.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to
lay the groundwork for those talks on Friday in calls with NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg and others, the State Department said.

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In conversations with the foreign ministers of
Canada and Italy, Blinken discussed a united response to deter further Russian
aggression against Ukraine.

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