Biden, Putin to Speak After Russia Ups Demands for Security Guarantees in Eastern Europe

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are now scheduled to speak Thursday, following recent expansions to the demands Putin has made concerning the behavior of the U.S. and its NATO allies in Ukraine.

The National Security Council released a statement announcing the call, in which spokeswoman Emily Horne said Biden and Putin will discuss "a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements."

Biden is expected to emphasize America's commitment to its allies, but is willing to work toward "principled diplomacy" with Russia, an administration official told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

The official also said the Biden administration sees the call as another important step in finding a way past the "moment of crisis" the situation between Russia and Ukraine represents.

Earlier this month, Russia submitted draft security documents that said NATO needed to reject Ukraine's entry into the organization as well as other Eastern European countries formerly of the Soviet Union and demanded the U.S. and other NATO countries scale back or remove entirely their military assistance and deployments to Ukraine.

The U.S. and other allies have so far refused the demands, saying one of NATO's core principles is its ability to accept membership of any country that qualifies.

Last week, Putin held a press conference where he refused to rule out a potential invasion of Ukraine and demanded the U.S. and other NATO members listen to the nation's demands ahead of the January negotiations announced last week.

The announcement also comes soon after six U.S. Navy vessels, including the USS Harry S. Truman, were ordered to remain in the Mediterranean Sea region rather than continuing their trip to the Middle East to address continuing concerns of potential conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Russia US Ukraine
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to speak December 30, 2021, as the Russian leader has stepped up his demands for security guarantees in Eastern Europe. Above, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive to meet at the 'Villa la Grange' on June 16, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland. Patrick Semansky/Associated Press File

The talks come as the U.S. and Western allies have watched the buildup of Russian troops near the border of Ukraine, growing to an estimated 100,000 and fueling fears that Moscow is preparing to invade Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken "reiterated the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's military buildup on Ukraine's borders."

Price said the two discussed efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia.

Putin said earlier this week he would ponder a slew of options if the West fails to meet his push for security guarantees precluding NATO's expansion to Ukraine.

The U.S. and Russia are to hold high-level talks on January 10. Moscow and NATO representatives are expected to meet that same week as well as Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes the United States.

The official spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. The two leaders held a video call earlier this month.

In 2014, Russian troops marched into the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and seized the territory from Ukraine. Russia's annexation of Crimea—one of the darker moments for former President Barack Obama on the international stage—looms large as Biden looks to contain the current smoldering crisis.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has made clear in public comments that the administration is ready to discuss Moscow's concerns about NATO in talks with Russian officials but emphasized that Washington is committed to the "principle of nothing about you without you" in shaping policy that affects European allies.

"We're approaching the broader question of diplomacy with Russia from the point of view that ... meaningful progress at the negotiating table, of course, will have to take place in a context of de-escalation rather than escalation," Sullivan said at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this month. He added "that it's very difficult to see agreements getting consummated if we're continuing to see an escalatory cycle."

The two leaders are also expected during Thursday's call to discuss efforts to persuade Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear accord, which was effectively scrapped by the Trump administration.

Despite differences on Ukraine and other issues, White House officials have said the Iran nuclear issue is one where they believe the U.S. and Russia can work cooperatively.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Putin would speak with Biden on Thursday but provided no details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Russia US Ukraine
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Biden and Putin are scheduled to talk Thursday as concerns continue to rise over Russia's actions toward Ukraine, and Putin has made increasing demands of the US and its NATO allies. Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via Getty Images