President Joe Biden pledged Friday to make it difficult for Russia to take military action in Ukraine, as US intelligence officials determined that Russian planning is underway for a possible military offensive.
A Biden administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the finding said that the new intelligence found that the Russians are planning to deploy an estimated 175,000 troops and almost half of them are already deployed along the Ukrainian border.
Russia wants Biden to guarantee that Ukraine won't join the NATO alliance.
The plans call for the movement of 100 battalion tactical groups along with armor, artillery and equipment.
Intelligence officials have seen an increase in Russian propaganda efforts through the use of proxies and media outlets to insult NATO and Ukraine ahead of a potential invasion, according to an official.
Biden was asked about the intelligence finding as he set out for the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Biden said that he expected to have a long discussion with Putin.
If Putin went through with an invasion, the risks would be enormous.
While Putin is laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, the military of Ukraine is better armed and prepared today than in the past, and the sanctions the West would do to Russia would do serious damage to Russia's economy. They say it's not clear if Putin will go through with the risky offensive.
Biden said new initiatives coming from his administration are intended to deter Russian aggression and make it difficult for Putin to take military action in Ukraine.
Biden told reporters that he was putting together the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very difficult for Putin to do what people are worried he may do.
The Kremlin said Friday that Putin would ask for binding guarantees to stop NATO expansion to Ukraine during the call with Biden. Biden wanted to head off the demand.
Biden said he didn't accept anyone's red line.
Russian officials were warned that they could invade next month. The number of Russian troops in the area is estimated at 94,300, according to the Ukrainian Defense Minister. An unclassified intelligence document obtained Friday by The Associated Press shows that the US has around 70,000 troops near the border.
The intelligence findings were reported by The Washington Post.
There are signs that the White House and Kremlin are close to arranging a conversation between Biden and Putin. The date of the Putin-Biden call will be announced after Moscow and Washington finalize the details, according to Putin's foreign affairs adviser. The Russians wouldn't say when the date had been agreed upon.
A person close to the Ukrainian president who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity said Biden and Zelenskyy had agreed to have a call next week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that administration officials are considering a Biden-Putin call. White House officials did not respond to a request for comment on the Zelenskyy call.
It would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military build up that we are seeing on the border of Ukraine, with Biden and Putin.
Biden didn't say what actions he was weighing. The US has threatened new sanctions, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The effort would not be effective, he said.
"If the new sanctions from hell come, we will respond," he said. "We can't fail to respond."
If the administration moved forward with sanctions, it would look to coordinate with European allies. The White House is considering the way forward after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula that had been under the control of the Ukrainians since 1954.
Psaki said that they know what President Putin has done in the past. He is putting in place the ability to take action quickly.
The Russia official charged that the West was playing with fire by denying Russia a say in any further NATO expansion into countries of the former Soviet Union. Zelenskyy has pushed for Ukraine to join the alliance, but it hasn't set a timetable.
The U.S. has made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond with a range of high-impact economic measures that we have refrained from in the past.
He didn't say what sanctions were being weighed, but it's possible that Russia could be cut off from the international payments system. The European Union's Parliament voted in April to cut off Russia from the international financial messaging service if its troops entered Ukraine.
Such a move would block Russian businesses from the global financial system. Western allies considered such a step during the Russian-led tensions over Ukraine.
It would be a declaration of war according to the Russian Prime Minister.
Some U.S. government officials say that Putin could be trying to get attention and concessions from Biden and other Western leaders in order to force Russia back into a central role in world affairs as it had in the days of the Soviet Union.
They are very envious of the status of the United States as a superpower. John Herbst was a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
An invasion is possible, but more likely they will cause a crisis, get concessions from us, and then reduce the crisis. Right? Herbst said Friday that it was probably their objective.
The person said, "
The Associated Press writers contributed to the report.