Biden tells Putin to back down over Ukraine: US President personally phones Russian leader to ‘de-escalate tensions’

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  • Joe Biden has warned Vladimir Putin to ‘de-escalate tensions’ in eastern Europe as the two leaders spoke over the phone today amid a massive build-up of forces along the Ukrainian border 
  • Biden told of ‘unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’, White House said
  • Comes after Russia warned US against deploying two warships into the Black Sea ‘for their own good’ 
  • Destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt are expected to arrive in Black Sea tomorrow and Thursday

Joe Biden has told Vladimir Putin to stand down in Ukraine as the two leaders shared a phone call today amid a massive build-up of Russian troops on the border.

The US President, facing his first major foreign policy test against an experienced foe, ‘voiced concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions’, the White House said.

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Biden spoke of his ‘unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’ and proposed a summit ‘in the coming months’, the White House said, without giving any indication of Putin’s response.

Moscow later added that the phone call had taken place at Washington’s request, making it appear that Biden had come crawling to his adversary.

It took place hours after Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned Washington to keep its warships away from the Black Sea ‘for their own good’ while accusing the US and NATO of turning the region into a ‘powder keg’.

Sergei Ryabkov said the decision to deploy two ships to the Black Sea is ‘a provocation’ designed ‘to test our nerves’ as he called the US ‘an adversary’, ramping up a war of words between the two nuclear-armed superpowers.

The USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, are thought to be on their way to the Black Sea from a naval base in Spain and due to arrive tomorrow and Thursday, according to Turkish sources which are responsible for policing the straits leading to the sea.

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