Washington: No end is in sight for the Ukraine conflict as US officials said diplomatic talks between the US and Russia remained the same after a telephonic conversation held by leaders of both countries, with US President Joe Biden warning that Russia faces "swift and severe costs" if its troops carry out an invasion.
Following the dialogue between the two leaders, Kremlin's top foreign policy advisor Yury Ushakov dismissed US warnings of invasion as "hysteria", echoing similar stances from Moscow in previous week's where it has repeatedly asserted that it had no plans to invade Ukraine. US officials said that the talks had produced to substantial change in the mindsets of either leader although the discussion had been diplomatic.
Weeks of tensions that have seen Russia nearly surround its western neighbour with more than 100,000 troops intensified after Washington warned that an all-out invasion could begin "any day" and Russia launched its biggest naval drills in years across the Black Sea.
"If Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia," Biden told Putin, as quoted by AP.
The US and Russia are facing the gravest dip in relations since the Cold War period last century, as Russia's defense ministry on Saturday announced that it had chased off a US submarine that had crossed into its territorial waters near the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific. The US Indo-Pacific Command denied it had been operating in Russian territorial waters.
America has also ordered its citizens to leave Ukraine, and the same.order was issued to diplomats earlier in January. Britain also pulled out the majority of its remaining military advisors, while Australia said it had directed all remaining embassy staff in Kyiv to evacuate. Canada said it was closing its embassy temporarily and moving operations to the western city of Lviv.
Washington on Friday issued its most dire warning yet that Russia had assembled enough forces to launch a serious assault.
"Our view that military action could occur any day now, and could occur before the end of the Olympics, is only growing in terms of its robustness," US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned.
The possibility for an all out war peaked after intelligence reports pinpointed the meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as the deciding factor before any move was mad eby the Kremlin. Ukraine has already announced an evacuation plan for 3 million citizens in the event of an invasion, although its leadership has pushed for peaceful resolution.
Russia is seeking binding security guarantees from the West that include a pledge to roll NATO forces out of eastern Europe and to never expand into Ukraine