- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2022

President Biden is willing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week if the Kremlin does not attack Ukraine before then, the White House said late Sunday.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the two leaders have agreed to a high-stakes talk “in principle,” but only “if an invasion hasn’t happened.”

“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war,” Ms. Psaki said. “And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”

The meeting would occur after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, convene in Europe on Thursday, Ms. Psaki said.

News of a potential meeting between Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin comes after both leaders spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

Mr. Macron spoke with Mr. Putin twice on Sunday and later with Mr. Biden.

SEE ALSO: U.S. intel says Russia has decided to invade Ukraine

World leaders are still scrambling to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis as Russia continues to amass troops and conduct military exercises along Ukraine’s borders.

About 150,000 Russian troops have lined up against Ukraine’s borders, but last week a U.S. official said that number could be as high as 190,000.

Russian commanders were ordered to move forward with an invasion of Ukraine, according to reports Sunday by ABC and CBS, which cited anonymous U.S. intelligence sources. 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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