Speed Reads

the red phone

Biden talks directly with Putin for the first time since December as Ukraine invasion threat looms

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Saturday in what could be a last-ditch attempt to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reports.

Putin initially tried to schedule the call for Monday, but Biden requested on Friday that it take place as soon as possible. Biden was at Camp David during the call. According to The New York Post, Saturday's call was the first direct conversation between Biden and Putin since December.

Discussions between U.S. and Russian diplomats in Geneva and at the United Nations produced little to no progress in defusing the situation, and some 130,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine's border. U.S. intelligence sources warn that Putin may already have given the order to invade. The State Department has urged all U.S. nationals to get out of Ukraine while they still can.

Before the call, Putin spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Putin in Moscow on Monday. After the Monday meeting, Macron told reporters that he had "secured an assurance" from Putin that there would be no "escalation" of the situation on Ukraine's border. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov quickly denied that any such assurance had been given.