A senior administration official said the two world leaders will discuss the parameters of an upcoming meeting scheduled for the week of Jan. 10, where the U.S., NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe permanent council (OSCE) will discuss a “range of security and strategic issues.”
“Russia has put its concerns on the table and we are prepared to discuss them,” the official said. “The United States and our allies and partners will put our concerns on the table and expect Russia to be prepared to discuss them as well.”
The talks are a part of the previously planned Strategic Security Dialogue that was agreed to in June, but comes as Russia has amassed roughly 100,000 troops along its shared border with Ukraine.
Putin, who requested the Thursday call, has said he will need “guarantees” from the West that NATO will not allow former Soviet nations, like Ukraine, membership – citing alleged security concerns of an expanded NATO presence surrounding Russia.
It is unclear why the Russian leader requested the call ahead of the talks in two weeks. But the Biden administration has repeatedly said it will follow the principle of “nothing about them without them” – suggesting Biden will be unwilling to discuss NATO plans without European leaders present.
Neither the U.S. nor NATO have said how they will respond to Putin’s demands, but have threatened severe repercussions should Russia invade Ukraine.
The senior administration official also told Fox News that Biden will “make clear” to Putin that “we are prepared for diplomacy” but will warn that “we are also prepared to respond if Russia advances with a further invasion of Ukraine.”
The call on Thursday is expected to reflect a similar tone to the previous conversation between Biden and Putin earlier this month, though the threat of more than economic backlash is expected to be floated.
The Biden administration has already warned it will not hesitate to implement severe economic sanctions that would surpass those slapped on the Kremlin after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
But the official said the president will also make it known that “we have made plans to reinforce NATO’s force posture and allied states in the event of further invasion.”
The destabilizing security implications of a Russian invasion would also “demand adjustments to NATO forces and capabilities,” the official said. Adding “we are prepared to provide Ukraine with further assistance to defend its territory and respond to a potential Russian occupation.”
Earlier this week Russia withdrew 10,000 troops from the Ukrainian border, alleging the service members had “completed” months-long “drills.”
But the senior administration official told Fox News that the White House remains “gravely concerned” about the nature of the continued troop presence on the Ukrainian border and the capabilities they possess.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russian doctrine and strategy, Rebekah Koffler, told Fox News it is not a matter of if Putin invades Ukraine, but when.
“He’s convinced the U.S.’s long-term goal is to basically fracture Russia,” she said, noting Putin’s concerns about Ukraine gaining a foothold in NATO.
Koeffler said she thinks the call ahead of the January talks may be an attempt to “warn Biden to stay out of it.”
“It seems to be an urgent call,” she added. “Putin is reading for war and he will strike Ukraine soon.”