- US President Joe Biden calls British Prime Minister Boris to discuss Ukraine.
- Discussion comes after US warned Russian invasion of its western neighbor could be close
- Leaders stress that any further incursion into Ukraine would lead to a protracted crisis for Russia.
LONDON: US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed in an appeal Monday that a “critical window for diplomacy” remained over the crisis in Ukraine, Johnson’s office said.
The discussion, the most recent among world leaders focused on the crisis in Ukraine, comes after US intelligence officials warned that a Moscow invasion of its western neighbor could take several days.
“They agreed that a crucial period remains for diplomacy and for Russia to distance itself from its threats against Ukraine,” a Downing Street spokesman added about the call between the transatlantic allies.
“Leaders stressed that any further invasion of Ukraine would result in a protracted crisis for Russia, with far-reaching damage to both Russia and the world.”
They also stressed that diplomatic talks with Russia remain “the first priority”, and welcomed the talks that have already taken place between Russia and NATO allies, the spokesman said.
“They agreed that Western allies must remain united in the face of Russian threats, including the imposition of a significant package of sanctions if Russian aggression escalates,” he added.
“They also reiterated the need for European countries to reduce their dependence on Russian gas, a move that, more than any other, would affect Russia’s strategic interests.”
The White House said the two leaders “reviewed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s ongoing military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“They discussed efforts to strengthen the defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank and underlined the continued close coordination between Allies and partners, including a willingness to impose serious consequences on Russia if it chose to pursue further military escalation,” it added.
Russia has gathered more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and in neighboring Belarus, where they have conducted joint exercises.
Earlier Monday, Johnson urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to step back from “the brink of an abyss”, calling the situation “very, very dangerous”.
The British leader said he did not plan to visit Moscow, but would soon talk to “several leaders” about the crisis.
Meanwhile, in London, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss later chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, “COBR,” to discuss British nationals who could be trapped in Ukraine in the event of hostilities.
The government is urging all Britons to leave the country on commercial flights, but says it will retain a “core” diplomatic presence in Kiev.
“We are doing everything possible to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine while also preparing for the worst,” Truss tweeted after the meeting.
The prime minister would also receive a security briefing from the intelligence chiefs.
On Tuesday, he will chair a full meeting of the Civil Contingencies Committee, convened to deal with matters of national emergencies or major disruptions to discuss the UK’s overall response, Downing Street said.