President Biden will speak by phone Thursday with President Putin

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Presidents of the U.S. and Russia will speak by phone on Thursday at Putin’s request, days before US and Russian officials meet for talks on Geneva in 10 January. They will discuss forthcoming security talks between the countries and the situation in Europe, a White House official said. “I cannot speak to why the Russian side has requested this call … I think both leaders believe that there is genuine value in direct leader to leader engagement, that we are at a moment of crisis and have been for some weeks now given the Russian build-up and it will take a high level of engagement to address this and to try to find a path of de-escalation,” was said.Ukrainian security officials say more than 100,000 Russian troops have been sent close to their shared border, and the US has threatened Mr Putin with sanctions “like none he’s ever seen.”

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Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine. Russia has said it wants legally binding guarantees that Nato will not move eastwards and that weapons will not be sent to Ukraine or any neighbouring countries. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The two discussed efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia.