London Defender

The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Putin and Biden end high-stakes call as US poised to send fighter jets to Russian border

The virtual meeting on Tuesday between the US President and his Russian counterpart wrapped up after almost exactly two hours. It comes as Finland is reportedly set to add F-35 fighter jets to its fleet to replace war planes that are key to defending its border with Russia.

In their call, Mr Biden warned of “strong economic and other measures” if Moscow invades neighbouring Ukraine.

The White House said Mr Biden expressed “deep concerns of the US and our European allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine” and “made clear that the US and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation”.

Mr Biden reiterated US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said, and called for de-escalation and diplomacy.

Mr Putin and Mr Biden agreed to have their teams follow up.

The two leaders were seeking to de-escalate tensions amid Western fears that Moscow is planning a military offensive.

Russia has sparked war fears with its troop buildup on the border.

The West fears the country may be set to invade Ukraine, which Moscow denies.

More than 90,000 Russian troops are believed to be amassed on the border.

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It will be the second call in 24 hours between Mr Johnson, Mr Biden, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they seek to present a united front in response to the threat of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.

In a call on Monday, Mr Johnson told his fellow leaders “the UK would continue to use all the economic and diplomatic tools at its disposal to prevent any Russian aggression against Ukraine”.

In the Commons on Tuesday, Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford told MPs that the UK was considering “an extension of purely defensive support to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend itself”.

She said any “military incursion” by Russia into the Eastern European country would be a “strategic mistake”.

Mr Biden was expected to use his call with Mr Putin to warn the US would impose serious economic sanctions if Russian forces crossed into Ukraine.

In a preview of the video call, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “We’ve consulted significantly with our allies and believe we have a path forward that would impose significant and severe harm on the Russian economy.”

Russia is adamant the US should guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted to the NATO military alliance.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.