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President Biden held a high-stakes phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday, amid dire warnings from the United States for Americans to evacuate Ukraine over the fears of an imminent Russian invasion.
The secure call began at 11:04 a.m. from Camp David and ended at 12:06 p.m, according to the White House. The Russians proposed holding the call on Monday, but the Biden Administration wanted an earlier call as U.S. officials say there are increasing signs that Russia may launch a military invasion into neighboring Ukraine.
Earlier Saturday the State Department ordered non-emergency personnel at the Embassy in Kyiv to evacuate, hours after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan urged Americans to get out of the country.
“As we’ve said before, we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time, should Vladimir Putin decide to order it,” Sullivan said at a White House news briefing.
Putin also got an earful earlier Saturday from French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
A Kremlin summary of the call suggested that little progress was made toward cooling down the tensions, with the statement downplaying the border buildup as “provocative speculations regarding the allegedly planned Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine.”
Russia has massed well over 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, but denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine.
Biden’s hour-long talk with Putin occurred after Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday.
Blinken again pressed Russia to choose a diplomatic solution to the situation, but that Russia would face a “resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response” if it decides to invade Ukraine.
“The Secretary made clear that a diplomatic path to resolving the crisis remained open, but it would require Moscow to deescalate and engage in good-faith discussions,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Lavrov described the talk about Russian aggression as a Western “propaganda campaign” that “pursues provocative goals.”
A senior State Department official said Saturday that active conflict between Russia and Ukraine is “increasingly likely.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Fox News he has “different information” than the U.S. on the possibility of a Russian invasion.
Zelenskyy has sought to downplay the imminence of a Russian invasion, saying that causing a panic “doesn’t help us.”
“The truth is we have different information,” Zelenskyy told Fox News reporter Trey Yingst. “And now the best friend for enemies is panic in our country. And all this information that helps only for panic doesn’t help us.”
“We have to be ready,” Zelenskyy explained. “Each day. And it began not yesterday. It began in 2014. So we’re ready. And that’s why we’re here. That’s why you see how are team work.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken, Adam Shaw, Paul Conner as well as the Associated Press contributed to this report.