Biden makes Ukraine pledge in Zelensky call

President Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart that the US will respond “decisively” to potential “Russian aggression”

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke by phone for just under an hour on Sunday, with Biden promising that the US would respond “swiftly and decisively” to any potential Russian military action. However, Biden didn't stray from his promise not to put US troops in Ukraine.

According to a White House readout of the call, “President Biden reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and “made clear that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, together with its Allies and partners, to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The call signals no change in the US’ posture, which is that in the event of military action by Russia, economic sanctions, and not military intervention, will be Washington’s weapon of choice. 

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While the White House stated that Biden and Zelensky agreed on “the importance of continuing to pursue diplomacy,” neither Biden nor any of his top officials have signaled that they are open to compromise with Russia, which views the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO – as the US insists it must be allowed do – as an existential security threat.

Biden and Zelensky last spoke in late January, and while Zelensky thanked Biden at the time for American weapons shipments, he reportedly urged Washington to be “more cautious in its messaging surrounding a potential Russian attack.” 

Since that call, Zelensky has demanded that US officials provide evidence for their claims that Russia is planning an imminent invasion of Ukraine. While the official line from Washington is still that Russia could launch a “major military action” against Ukraine “any day now,” Zelensky insists that “everything is under control,” and that there are no indications of imminent conflict.

The US has been claiming for several weeks now that a Russian invasion or “false flag” provocation is right around the corner, without providing concrete evidence beyond references to classified intelligence reports. However, both Ukraine and Russia – the actual belligerents in any potential conflict – have dismissed the US claims as either hyperbole or outright ‘fake news’.

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the US of “mocking common sense and the Ukrainian people, while implementing another global provocative campaign.”

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