Ukraine Denies Biden-Zelenskyy Phone Call Dispute

Kyiv has dismissed a claim that a phone call on Thursday had gone badly between President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Media in Ukraine and Russia widely picked up a CNN report citing an unnamed Kyiv official suggesting the leaders disagreed on the risk of a Moscow-led attack on Ukraine.

The network reported that the official told the network that Biden had warned Zelenskyy that a Russian invasion was "virtually certain" once the ground had frozen in late February

CNN said that Zelenskyy had reiterated Kyiv's position that the threat from Russia remains "dangerous but ambiguous," in the call which the official said "did not go well."

However, Zelenskyy's spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, said in a statement shared on social media that the comments by the official "are absolutely not true."

His Facebook post said that what really happened in the talks "is contained only in official documents from the Ukrainian and American sides."

"All the rest is speculation," Nykyforov said. Newsweek has contacted CNN for comment.

The government in Kyiv is worried about the impact on the economy and public morale of categorical statements about the inevitability of a Moscow-led invasion, as world leaders warn about the threat posed by Russian forces massed by Ukraine.

Kyiv says while there is a real threat of an invasion, this was no higher than in previous months.

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne also disputed the senior Ukrainian official's description of the call, telling CNN that "anonymous sources are 'leaking' falsehoods."

Horne said that Biden has been warning "for months" that there is a "distinct possibility" Moscow-led forces could invade Ukraine in February.

"Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false."

After the CNN report, #Releasethetranscript started trending in a nod to Biden's request in 2019 to release the full conversation of a call between ex-President Donald Trump and Zelenskyy. House Republicans demanded that the full text of the phone call be released.

Zelenskyy tweeted his take on the conversation, saying that he and Biden "discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future.

"Thanked President @JoeBiden for the ongoing military assistance. Possibilities for financial support to Ukraine were also discussed."

Meanwhile, a White House readout of the call said Biden "reaffirmed" that the U.S. would "respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," adding that it would look at further "macroeconomic support" to help the Ukrainian economy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that written answers by the U.S. to Moscow's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to a freeze on NATO expansion.

Joe Biden and Volodomyr Zelenskiy
President Joe Biden (L) and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R). Kyiv disputes a report that a phone call between the two on January 27, 2022, went badly. Getty