Biden, Putin emphasize need for diplomacy ahead of phone call over Ukraine crisis

US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are emphasizing the need for diplomatic solutions ahead of their latest phone call aimed at defusing tensions surrounding the Ukraine conflict.

The call comes after Moscow earlier this month presented Western capitals with sweeping security demands, saying NATO must not admit new members and seeking to bar the United States from opening new bases in ex-Soviet countries.

The call this evening also comes ahead of talks between representatives of the two rivals in Geneva in January, with Washington saying it expects to discuss the Ukraine conflict and Moscow insisting its security demands be contended with.

Biden, who is at his home in Delaware for the New Year’s holiday, will stress in his call with Putin that Washington is looking for a “diplomatic path” out of the crisis, a senior administration official tells reporters.

“But we are also prepared to respond if Russia advances with a further invasion of Ukraine,” Biden will tell Putin, the official says, adding that Washington remained “gravely concerned” about the military buildup and wants to see the Russian forces return “to their regular training areas.”

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