Biden, Putin to hold call over stepped up security demands



U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the U.S. National Security Council.

The two leaders will discuss "a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in the statement.

The talks come as the U.S. and western allies have watched the buildup of Russian troops near the border of Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reiterating U.S. "unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity".

Putin said earlier this week he would ponder a slew of options if the West fails to meet his push for security guarantees precluding NATO's expansion to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.