Biden says team working on 'initiatives' to prevent Russian invasion of Ukraine

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President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin


President Biden said Friday that his national security team is putting together a "set of initiatives" to make it "very, very difficult" for Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine amid rising tensions on the border between both countries.

"I have been in constant contact with our allies in Europe, with the Ukrainians. My secretary of State, national security adviser have been engaged extensively and what I am doing is putting together what I believe will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do," Biden told reporters Friday when asked about the situation.

"That's in play right now," he added.

Biden did not elaborate on the "initiatives" his administration is working to craft. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday threatened coordinated sanctions on Russia if it does not reverse its military buildup on the border with Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters that the administration is engaged in consultations with European allies and with Congress to "make sure that we are prepared" should Putin invade Ukraine.

"There is a range of tools at our disposal," Psaki said, noting specifically that economic sanctions are an option, though she underscored that actions would be coordinated with allies and with Congress.

Psaki also indicated that additional security assistance to Ukraine was under consideration, but declined to further elaborate.

"Ukraine is in no way posing a threat to Russia, or seeking a confrontation that would justify a Russian military intervention. The only threat is that of renewed Russian aggression toward Ukraine," Blinken said at a press conference in Stockholm.

Russia has amassed some 90,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, leading to fears about Moscow preparing to invade the country.

Biden and Putin are expected to speak sometime in the near future, though the White House has not given a specific timeline for the call. The two leaders held their first in-person meeting in Geneva over the summer.

"We have been engaged on the possibility of that," Psaki said, noting the White House would release more details if the call happens.

Updated at 2:40 p.m.

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