The conversation began at 11:04 a.m. ET, according to a White House official.
The call between the two leaders comes hours after the US moved some of its forces out of Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff on Saturday as fears mount that a Russian invasion of the country could take place in the next few days. The moves were yet another sign that the US fears Putin could order an invasion at any time, just one day after Biden’s national security adviser warned Americans in Ukraine to leave and that military action could begin with an aerial bombardment that could kill civilians.
Ahead of the calls, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Western countries and the press of spreading a “large-scale disinformation campaign” about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine “in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions.”
“At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the global information space faced a media campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the world community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine,” the Ministry said in a statement published on its website.
Putin and Biden last spoke on the phone late last year. Prior to that, on December 7, they had negotiations via video-conference. The first face-to-face meeting between Putin and Biden as heads of state took place in Geneva in June 2021.
The Russian President has also engaged a series of Western leaders in talks that have so far appeared fruitless in defusing the situation.
Putin’s weekend phone calls follow several warnings on Friday by American and European officials, who expressed concern for the security of Europe and the safety of their citizens in Ukraine.
Biden, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, took part in a virtual meeting from the White House on Friday with leaders from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, NATO, the European Commission and the European Council to discuss escalating tensions.
Following the call, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, appeared before the press saying that though Putin hasn’t decided whether to act, there is a “very distinct possibility” Russia could swiftly engage in a major military action.
“We obviously cannot predict the future, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen. But the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what…