President Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to "de-escalate tensions" following a Russian military buildup on Ukraine's border in their second tense call of Biden's presidency. Biden also told Putin the US would "act firmly in defense of its national interests| regarding Russian cyber intrusions and election interference, according to the White House. Biden proposed a summit in a third country "in the coming months” to discuss the full range of US-Russia issues, the White House said. There is growing concern in the West about a surge of cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a conflict since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Biden's call with Putin came as the top US diplomat and the leader of NATO condemned the recent massing of thousands of Russian troops, the AP reports. Biden "emphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said in a statement. Ukraine has said Russia has 41,000 troops at its border with eastern Ukraine and 42,000 more in Crimea. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday the military buildup of the past three weeks was part of readiness drills in response to what he described as threats from NATO. The White House provided no details on the timing or location of Biden's proposed summit.
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