In a two-hour video call with Russian President Vladimir.Putin, US President Joe Biden has reportedly warned that strong economic action will be taken if Russia does invade Ukraine, as it has amassed over 100,000 troops on the border in the last few months. Among the economic sanctions mentioned is the possibility of blocking the Russian Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
The video call is an attempt to de-escalate tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border which has elicited the concern of other European nations such as Germany and Britain.
Moscow has denied any rumours of an invasion and accused Western nations of 'hysteria' with Putin's top foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov telling reporters that: "Russian troops are on their territory, they are threatening no one."
It has also accused the US of having ambitions to expand the influence of the NATO alliance in the region which Russia considers a credible threat. Russia has previously opposed the idea of Ukraine joining the NATO alliance although such a move has not really come to fruition. With slim chance of Ukraine joining, NATO and the US cannot make concessions to allow Russia veto power over such a decision, the White House said.
The US, which withdrew from a long and painful conflict in Afghanistan earlier this year is looking to solve the issue through economic sanctions and not troops. One such target is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has yet to begin delivering natural gas to Germany. Joe Biden's national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the pipeline's future was at "risk" if Russia does invade Ukraine.
Biden talked with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy after he finished with Putin. They "underscored their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the need for Russia to reduce tensions." the White House said in a statement.
In Ukraine, tensions are already at a peak with President Volodymyr Zelensky visiting the frontlines where Ukranian soldiers have been preparing for the suspected Russian advancement to thank them for their service. Ukranian forces have been engaging in regular conflict with armed Russian separatists since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.