Biden reaffirms US support for Ukraine over the phone with Zelenskyy amid Russia fears

The two leaders held their second call a month after Biden's call on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone on Sunday, confirming US support for Ukraine in the face of growing Russian violence, the White House said.

Russia has built about 100,000 or more troops on the border with Ukraine, sparking fears of an earlier attack this month. Russia has repeatedly denied plans to attack its neighbor, but Biden officials say they are ready.

This is the second call the two leaders have made in recent weeks. Biden also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin last week to reduce tensions on the Ukrainian border.

Biden told Zelenskyy that the US and its allies and their allies would "react strongly" if Russia attacked, White House news correspondent Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"Biden reaffirmed the commitment of the United States and its allies and its allies to the principle that 'there is nothing about you except you,'" Psaki said. "He also expressed support for confidence-building measures to reduce tensions in Donbas and effective communications to advance the implementation of the Minsk agreement, in support of the Normandy Format."

Zelenskyy praised the "unwavering support" in the tweet.

Biden urges Putin to reduce tensions with Ukraine

DEC. 31, 202100: 26

Russia and the US have been involved in high-level communications talks with Ukraine in recent weeks.

Biden urged Putin to reduce tensions over a 50-minute phone call on Thursday. Biden warned Putin that the US could impose new sanctions if Russia took military action against Ukraine. The call, the second between Biden and Putin last month, was requested by the Russians.

"We have made it clear to President Putin that if he moves again and enters Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies, and it will be a difficult price to pay," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on New Year's Eve.

Biden made similar remarks on the phone with Putin in early December, when Biden said Moscow would face "serious consequences" if it moved forward in Ukraine.

Putin warned on the phone that relations could be severed if Biden imposed sanctions, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Friday, according to Russian news agency TASS.

In a phone call on Wednesday with Zelenskyy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated US support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and regional integrity, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

"The two have discussed efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully in eastern Ukraine and in future talks with Russia," he said.

US and Russian officials are scheduled to hold security talks in Geneva in January. 10, in which Biden and Putin are not expected to participate in them. A meeting between Russia and NATO is scheduled for Jan. 12.