Updated Feb 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden tells Putin that Ukraine invasion would cause "irrevocable damage"

resident Joe Biden (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16, 2021.
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16, 2021. Photo: Saul Loeb/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and allies will "respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs" if Russia invades Ukraine, President Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Saturday.

Driving the news: A senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call that the White House sensed "no fundamental change" in Russia's posture from the last several weeks.

  • Biden warned Putin that Russia would face "severe economic costs" and "irrevocable reputational damage caused by taking innocent lives for a bloody war," the official said.
  • The two sides agreed to stay engaged in the coming days, but the official cautioned that Russia may decide to invade anyway.

What they're saying: "President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing," according to the White House.

  • "President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios."
  • The phone call between the leaders lasted one hour and two minutes.

The big picture: French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call with Putin earlier on Saturday "conveyed the concerns of his European partners and allies to his interlocutor," according to the Élysée Palace.

  • Macron also told Putin "that sincere dialogue was not compatible with an escalation," per a statement.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday. The pair "discussed their shared concerns about the continuing buildup of Russian military forces in and around Ukraine, as well as Russia’s ongoing aggression and destabilization activities."

  • "Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s steadfast support for the sovereignty ... of Ukraine and emphasized that any further military incursion into Ukraine would have serious consequences, including coordinated sanctions," according to Trudeau's office.

State of play: The Pentagon announced Saturday that it is pulling nearly 160 members of the Florida National Guard from Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a "temporary" repositioning of the members of the Florida Army National Guard to "elsewhere in Europe."
  • The U.S. is also evacuating most embassy staff from Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv as top U.S. officials warn a Russian invasion could be imminent.

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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