Biden warns Putin of 'severe costs' of Ukraine invasion

Biden warns Putin of severe costs of Ukraine invasion

Moscow: President Joe Biden on Saturday again called on President Vladimir Putin to pull back more than 100,000 Russian troops massed near Ukraine's borders and warned that the U.S. and its allies would respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs if Russia invades, according to the White House.

Biden and Putin spoke for more than an hour the day after the U.S. president's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that U.S. intelligence shows that a Russian invasion could begin within days and before the Winter Olympics in Beijing end February 20.

The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that Russia could invade Ukraine soon, but U.S. officials had previously said the Kremlin would likely wait until after the Games ended so as not to antagonise China.

Sullivan told reporters on Friday that U.S. intelligence gleaned show that Russia could take military action during the Olympics. Russia denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine.

The United States is set to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv as Western intelligence officials warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is increasingly imminent.

U.S. officials say the State Department plans to announce early Saturday that all American staff at the Kyiv embassy will be required to leave the country ahead of a feared Russian invasion. The State Department would not comment.

The department had earlier ordered families of U.S. embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave. But it had left it to the discretion of nonessential personnel if they wanted to depart. The new move comes as Washington has ratcheted up its warnings about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly, said a limited number of U.S. diplomats may be relocated to Ukraine's far west, near the border with Poland, a NATO ally, so the U.S. could retain a diplomatic presence in the country.

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