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Biden, in call with Putin, voiced concerns about Russian military buildup

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions, the White House said.

Biden expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup in the Crimea region of Ukraine and on Ukraine’s border, the White House said in a statement.

It said Biden also made clear that the United States will act “firmly” to defend its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. Biden also proposed holding a summit with Putin in a third country in coming months.

Russia calls US an adversary, warns its warships to avoid Crimea

Russia also called the United States an adversary and told US warships to stay well away from Crimea “for their own good”, calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russian nerves.

“The United States is our adversary and does everything it can to undermine Russia’s position on the world stage,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was cited as saying by Russian news agencies.

“We do not see any other elements in their approach. Those are our conclusions,” the agencies quoted him as saying.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea and it has powerful missile and radar facilities on the peninsula.

Russia confirmed on Tuesday it was continuing to move 15 navy vessels to the Black Sea from the Caspian Sea to take part in drills.

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