- WH said the path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively
- US has said that it will respond decisively if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine
The Biden Administration has warned Russia of 'severe consequences' in case its forces invade Ukraine and insisted on a diplomatic solution to the issue.
"We are actively working to reach a diplomatic solution to de-escalate the crisis. Over the weekend, as you all know, the President spoke with President Putin, and we remain engaged with the Russian government in full coordination with our allies and partners," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
"The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively," she said. "However, we are clear-eyed about the prospects of that, given the steps Russia is taking on the ground," she said, as President Joe Biden reached out to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the situation.
The leaders discussed their recent diplomatic engagements with Ukraine and Russia, said the White House in a readout. They also reviewed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia's continued military build-up on Ukraine's borders and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, it said.
"They discussed efforts to reinforce the defensive posture on NATO's eastern flank and underlined the continued close coordination among allies and partners, including on readiness to impose severe consequences on Russia should it choose further military escalation," the White House said.
During the White House news conference, Jean-Pierre said they are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time.
"We will not comment on any details of our intelligence information except that it could begin this week, despite a lot of speculation that it would happen after the Olympic. It remains unclear which path Russia will choose to take," she said. The US is ready for any situation, she asserted.
"President Biden has made it very clear on his call with Putin this weekend that 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," she noted.
Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia's standing, she said.
At a separate news conference, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is going to travel to Belgium, Poland, and Lithuania. He will meet with allied defense ministers and NATO leadership to discuss Russia's military build-up in and around Ukraine.