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Biden holds first call with Ukrainian president amid Russian buildup

Published on April 4, 2021 2:51 AM
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STORY BY NATASHA BERTRAND AND LARA SELIGMAN

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Russian military buildup in eastern Ukraine that has alarmed U.S. and Ukrainian officials Joe Biden action towards Russian military buildup

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President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Friday morning for the first time since Biden took office, amid reports of a Russian military buildup in eastern Ukraine that has alarmed U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

The leaders spoke for 30 to 40 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of the call. A White House readout of the conversation said Biden "reaffirmed the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea."

The leaders also discussed Zelensky's anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, which are "central to Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations," the readout says.

The conversation follows at least three high-level calls between the U.S. and Ukraine this week between Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Ukrainian counterparts.

Ukrainian officials had been pushing for a call between Zelensky and Biden for weeks, including in a recent call between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and top Zelensky aid Andriy Yermak, according to one person familiar with their conversation.

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