US President Joe Biden pledged support for Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia during a phone call Thursday with his counterpart in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky, the White House said.
Biden has been leading attempts to build a united Western front against Russian military pressure on Ukraine, which has angered Moscow by seeking to integrate with the West. More than 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine's borders, AFP reported.
In the call with Zelensky, Biden "reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," a readout from the White House said.
Biden "underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
In the call, Biden said Washington is "exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine's economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia's military build-up," the statement said, without going into detail.
Addressing Ukrainian criticism over the decision to call on US citizens to leave Ukraine, Biden told Zelensky that the embassy "remains open and fully operational."
While expressing support for talks this week where Ukraine and Russia recommitted to a tense ceasefire in the disputed east of the country, Biden promised that diplomatic deals would not be cut behind Ukraine's back, saying "nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine."
In a tweet, Zelensky said he and the US president had "a long phone conversation" and that they "discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future."
Zelensky said he thanked Biden for US weapons deliveries and that "possibilities for financial support to Ukraine were also discussed."
Meanwhile, Russia’s top diplomat said Friday that Moscow will not start a war but warned that it wouldn’t allow the West to trample on its security interests amid fears it is planning to invade Ukraine.
“There won’t be a war as far as it depends on the Russian Federation, we don’t want a war,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a live interview with Russian radio stations.
“But we won’t let our interests be rudely trampled on and ignored.”
Tensions have soared in recent weeks, and the United States and its NATO allies worry that a buildup of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine signals that Moscow intends to attack the ex-Soviet state. Russia has repeatedly denied having any such plans, but has demanded that NATO promise Ukraine will never be allowed to join and that the alliance roll back deployments of troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe.
The US and NATO formally rejected those demands this week, though Washington outlined areas where discussions are possible, offering hope that there could be a war to avoid war.