President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.
Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.
- Biden is not threatening to respond militarily to defend Ukraine, but to hit Putin with sanctions, bolster the defenses of NATO allies like the Baltic states, and send Ukraine more equipment to defend itself.
The big picture: Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops at various points near the border, and is "stepping up its planning for significant military action against Ukraine," the senior official said on a briefing call to preview the Biden-Putin conversation.
- The White House has also warned that the Kremlin is stepping up a disinformation campaign against Ukraine, potentially as a pretext to blame Kyiv for any military clash.
- “We do not know whether President Putin has made a decision about further military escalation in Ukraine. But we do know that he is putting in place the capacity to engage in such escalation should he decide to do so," the official said.