US and Russia in ‘moment of crisis,’ senior official says ahead of Biden-Putin call

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The US and Russia are in a “moment of crisis,” a senior Biden administration official said Wednesday, shortly after the White House announced a call later this week between the American president and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“I think both leaders believe that there is genuine value in direct leader-to-leader engagement, that we are in a moment of crisis, and have been for some weeks now given the Russian build-up,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

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“It will take a high level of engagement to address this and to try to find a path to de-escalation,” the official said.

Before the call, the White House said Biden and Putin would hold a call on Thursday to discuss diplomatic engagements with Russia and the Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine.

Washington and its allies in Europe have issued stern warnings to Russia that there would be severe consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine.

“It remains a continuing source of great concern, what the Russians have been putting in place in and around that border area. And we would like to see a reduction in that build-up and the return of forces to their regular training areas or their their long-term deployment areas,” the US official said.

Russia has issued a list of demands to be fulfilled, including a pledge that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO. The US has said this is unreasonable.

Another set of talks is scheduled for Jan. 12 between NATO and Russia and a separate meeting with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) after that.

Read more: Kremlin says security guarantee talks with NATO make sense for Russia

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