Joe Biden spoke with Vladimir Putin and asked him to "de-escalate" the military tension on the border with Ukraine.

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source: abcnews.go.com

The US president made it clear to his Russian counterpart that Washington "will act firmly" to defend its interests. He also proposed a summit in a third country to discuss bilateral issues.

US President Joe Biden conversed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The latter was urged to de-escalate the military tension on the border with Ukraine, where the Kremlin has deployed troops and raises concerns about an invasion.

In the telephone conversation, the North American leader reiterated the "unbreakable" defense alliance between Washington and Kyiv, according to the government's summary. Also, he expressed concern about the "sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on the borders of Ukraine."

For its part, the Russian government report on the call indicated that both leaders "expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue in the areas most important for global security."

Biden also proposed a bilateral summit, but not with an invitation to the White House, but a third country meeting. Moscow confirmed the proposal but did not say whether the answer is positive or negative.

Among other issues, Biden showed the intention to continue the dialogues on security and weapons issues, starting with expanding the New START treaty.

Russia has transferred 15 ships from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea amid a new escalation of tensions with the United States, which reported the dispatch of two warships to the area in a show of support for Kyiv in the face of the increase in the Russian military presence on the border with Ukraine.

According to a Russian military statement, the movement of the 15 vessels, including three gunboats and eight landing craft, is part of a "routine" procedure to review the capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces after the end of the winter season.

The shipment of the Russian ships comes amid heightened fears of an imminent invasion of the Donbas region by Moscow, as it accumulates troops and weapons on its borders with Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian army commander, General Ruslan Khomchak, Russia has deployed at least 28 battalion tactical groups in the border region with its neighbor and Crimea. This roughly equates to around 20,000 - 25,000 soldiers.

Intelligence reports also indicate that the Russian military is deploying tanks, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles 150 miles from its border with Ukraine.

In this context, NATO issued a warning to Russia on Tuesday about the worsening tensions in Ukraine. Simultaneously, two senior US officials disembarked in Brussels to discuss the situation and hold consultations on the next steps.

"The concentration of troops by Russia [on the border with Ukraine] is unjustified, unexplained, and deeply worrying," said the secretary-general of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, in Brussels.

The White House statement on the call

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. They discussed several regional and global issues, including the United States and Russia's intention to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on several emerging security and arms control issues, building on expanding the NEW START treaty. President Biden also made it clear that the United States will act decisively in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. President Biden underscored the unwavering commitment of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The President expressed our concern about the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on the borders of Ukraine and asked Russia to ease tensions. President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, consistent with the interests of the United States, and proposed a summit in a third country to fully discuss the issues facing the United States and Russia in the coming months.