Sat. May 28th, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are to hold a high-stakes telephone call on Sunday as tensions over a possibility imminent invasion of Ukraine escalated sharply and the U.S. announced plans to evacuate its embassy in the Ukrainian capital.


Before talking to Biden, Putin is to have a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the crisis.

Russia has massed troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, but insistently denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine.

However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Saturday that the country has “optimized” staffing at its embassy in Kyiv, but said the move was in response to concerns about possible military actions from the Ukrainian side.

“We conclude that our American and British colleagues apparently know about some military actions being prepared in Ukraine that could significantly complicate the situation in the security sphere,” she said in a statement. “In this situation, fearing possible provocations by the Kyiv regime or third countries, we actually decided to somewhat optimize the staffing of Russian foreign missions in Ukraine.”

Britain on Saturday told its nationals to leave Ukraine. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC that U.K. troops that have been training the Ukrainian army also would leave the country. Germany and the Netherlands also called on their citizens to leave as soon as possible.

Adding to the sense of crisis, the Pentagon ordered an additional 3,000 U.S. troops to Poland to reassure allies.

Biden has said the U.S. military will not enter a war in Ukraine, but he has promised severe economic sanctions against Moscow, in concert with international allies.

The timing of any possible Russian military action remains a key question.

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