Washington, January 28: US President Joe Biden on Thursday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to “respond decisively” if Russia further invades Ukraine.
During the call, Biden underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said in a statement.
Biden noted the United States has provided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance in the last year, and is exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia’s military build-up.
Biden made clear that despite the departure of American family members of embassy personnel, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, remains open and fully operational.
According to the statement, the leaders discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security, underscoring the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
His talks with Zelenskyy comes a day after crisis talks with European leaders on deterring Russia to invade Ukraine.
President Joe Biden declared “total” unity among Western powers and said “I had a very, very, very good meeting — total unanimity with all the European leaders.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said a force of up to 8,500 US troops was on “heightened alert” for potential deployment to reinforce any activation of the NATO Response Force in the region, where there are growing fears of spillover from the Ukraine conflict.
“What this is about… is re-assurance to our NATO allies,” Kirby said. “It sends a very clear signal to Putin that we take our responsibilities to NATO seriously.”
President Biden relayed the United States’ support for conflict resolution efforts in the Normandy Format, expressing his hope that the sides’ recommitment on January 26 to the terms of the July 2020 ceasefire will help decrease tensions and advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the statement added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of “severe costs” if there is “any further aggression” by Moscow against Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin has deployed some 100,000 troops close to Ukraine, where Russia already seized Crimea in 2014 and backs a separatist army in the east.
United has sent written replies to demands made by Moscow including a guarantee that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, never be allowed to join NATO, as well as other concessions by the United States in return for a decrease in tension.