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Biden: U.S., allies to 'respond decisively' if Russia further invades Ukraine

Biden: U.S., allies to 'respond decisively' if Russia further invades Ukraine
President Joe Biden (R) told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the phone Sunday that the United States supports his country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. File Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart that the United States and its allies will "respond decisively" if Russia further invades its Eastern European neighbor.

Biden made the promise to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky over the phone on Sunday, according to a readout of the conversation by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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"President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," Psaki said.

Psaki said Biden reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity while highlighting efforts starting next week seeking a diplomatic end to the hostilities, including the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russia, NATO-Russia Council meetings and talks at the the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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Zelensky tweeted his appreciation for Biden's support on Sunday, stating the call "proves the special nature of our relations."

"We appreciate the unwavering support," he said.

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The call was made days after Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to de-escalate tensions with Kiev amid fears that he may invade as Russia has been building up its military near its border with Ukraine.

A day after the call with Putin, Biden told reporters that he made clear to the Russian president that "if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions."

Asked if he will impose sanctions against Russia if it maintains its military presence near the Ukrainian border, Biden said he will not negotiate in public, but that he emphasized Putin cannot "move on Ukraine."

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"We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies, and it will have to be a heavy price to pay for it," he said.

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