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Amid mounting tensions in Eastern Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday and proposed a summit of the two leaders to address a raft of disputes.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki:
"During this call, they discussed a number of regional issues and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialog on a range of arms control and emerging security issues. [FLASH] President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. And he also emphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The president voiced our concerns over the sudden, of Russian military buildup and increasing aggression on the border of Ukraine and called on Russia to deescalate tensions."
The White House and the Kremlin reported only the second conversation between the leaders, which comes amid a Russian military build-up on Ukraine's border.
Two U.S. warships are due to arrive in the Black Sea this week.
In language reminiscent of Cold War hostilities, Russia’s deputy foreign minister on Tuesday called the U.S. “our adversary,” and Russia's Defense Minister said his nation's armed forces were ready to face any provocation.
"The troops have shown full readiness and ability to fulfill the task of ensuring the country's military security."
Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and fighting has increased in recent weeks in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a seven-year conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.
Kyiv has welcomed the show of Western support, but it falls short of Ukraine's desire for full membership of NATO.
Moscow's description of the leaders' phone call did not include Putin's response to the suggested summit.