Western leaders last night vowed to form a ‘united front’ over Russian threats and hostility toward Ukraine.
The leaders of the US, UK, France, Italy and Germany called on Moscow to de-escalate tensions ahead of a key phone call between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden today.
They discussed a package of sanctions against President Putin’s regime should he invade Ukraine, with Boris Johnson vowing to use all ‘economic and diplomatic tools at the UK’s disposal’.
The leaders are understood to have devised a strategy to impose significant damage on the Russian economy.
Measures being considered by Nato are understood to include cutting off Russia from the international financial settlement system, according to The Times.
President Biden is expected to warn in his phone call that the US would deploy ‘additional forces and capabilities’ to Eastern Europe in response to an invasion.
However, it is believed that he would not go so far as to threaten a direct US military response. A Downing Street spokesman said the leaders emphasised the need for ‘a united front in the face of Russian threats and hostility’.
At the weekend Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed plans for the much-anticipated call, saying it would take place this evening.
Russia is adamant the US should guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted to the Nato military alliance.
The Biden administration refused to rule out deploying additional US troops to Eastern Europe should Putin invade Ukraine, although sources insist there are no plans for direct military action against the Kremlin.
A White House spokesman said Monday evening said that Biden had spoken to the leaders of France, the UK, Germany and Italy, and they discussed ‘their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric.’
The White House said: ‘The leaders underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
Biden will threaten Putin with ‘substantial economic’ sanctions should he invade Ukraine, according to reports. They’re likely to be similar to the economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its attempts to develop a nuclear weapon.
The plans against Putin would mirror the way Iran was isolated for failing to comply with the nuclear deal.
The official noted the US was ready to show a ‘combination of support for the Ukrainian military, strong economic countermeasures, and the substantial increase in support and capability to our NATO allies’ if Moscow moved forward with an attack.
The official briefed reporters on the situation in the Ukraine ahead of Biden’s call with Putin on Tuesday.
Taking a tough tone ahead of the conversation between the two leaders, the official noted that the U.S. and Europeans are prepared to place ‘substantial economic’ sanctions on Russia should Putin invade the Ukraine – a message President Biden will send during the virtual talk with his Russian counterpart.