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President Biden. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, congratulating the new leader and addressing Russia’s escalation of forces along Ukraine's border.

The big picture: Biden reaffirmed his support for "robust U.S.-German relations and desire to further strengthen transatlantic cooperation," the White House said.

  • "I look forward to working closely together on the full range of global challenges, including transatlantic efforts to address Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border," Biden said in a tweet regarding the call.
  • Biden and Scholz also spoke about efforts to help end the COVID-19 pandemic and counter the threat of climate change, according to the White House.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Catch up quick: In a phone call Tuesday, Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the "price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past," Axios' Dave Lawler writes.

  • Putin sought legal guarantees from Biden that NATO would not expand farther to the East.
  • On Thursday, White House officials said Biden wouldn't pressure Ukraine to surrender territory to Russian-backed separatists to deter Putin from launching a large-scale invasion.
  • Biden officials also said the U.S. is prepared to send additional military aid to Ukraine and increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank" in response to any Russian incursion.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - World

U.S. accuses Russia of preparing "false flag" operation to attack Ukraine

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The U.S. claims to have information indicating that Russia has "already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine," laying the groundwork for a potential pretext to invade, according to a U.S. official.

Why it matters: Diplomatic talks between the U.S., its European allies and Russia failed to produce a breakthrough this week, raising fears that Moscow will invade Ukraine and unleash a devastating new war.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

HRW criticizes Biden over "mixed signals" on human rights

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch criticized President Biden and other leaders of democratic nations for sending "mixed signals" on human rights in its annual World Report published on Thursday, saying they "are not meeting the challenges before them."

Why it matters: Though Biden pledged to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that weapon sales to repressive governments and public reticence on certain human rights violations place those promises in question.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

U.S. confirms Russia arrested REvil ransomware hackers

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in Moscow in June 2021. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/TASS via Getty Images

Russia's security agency said Friday it arrested members of the Russia-based cyber gang REvil that was responsible for multiple massive ransomware attacks against U.S. companies last year.

The latest: A senior administration official confirmed on Friday afternoon that Russia informed the U.S. that it arrested the alleged hackers, including an individual responsible for the cyberattack that crippled the Colonial Pipeline.