Biden to speak with Putin on Thursday ahead of U.S.-Russia security talks

President Biden will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday afternoon, ahead of a series of diplomatic talks in January over Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine.

Why it matters: The call, announced Wednesday by the White House, will mark the second time the two leaders have spoken this month. Putin has laid out a series of maximalist demands for scaling back U.S. and NATO activity in Europe, warning that the alliance’s expansion may leave Russia with no choice but to invade Ukraine.

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The big picture: The U.S. and Russia agreed this week to hold talks on Jan. 10, followed by meetings of the Russia-NATO Council on Jan. 12 and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Jan. 13.

  • The U.S. and its European allies have threatened Russia with unprecedented sanctions and an increased troop presence on NATO’s eastern flank if Putin moves forward with an invasion of Ukraine.

  • Putin has demanded that NATO rule out eastward expansion and all military activity in former Soviet republics. The U.S. has said it will consider Russia’s proposals, but called some of them “unacceptable.”

Between the lines: The Biden administration has been deliberate about coordinating with its European allies, insisting that any conversations about Europe and Ukraine’s security should not take place without them at the table.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier on Wednesday.

  • The Ukrainian government has asked the U.S. for more military aid to help it deter Russia, but the requests have so far gone unfulfilled as the Biden administration seeks a possible diplomatic resolution.

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