White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the White House is taking steps “to be prepared” in case Russia decides to invade Ukraine.
Watch the news briefing in the video player above.
Psaki made the comments at the White House briefing Friday shortly after President Joe Biden told reporters he’d make it “very, very difficult” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to take military action in Ukraine.
“We know what President Putin has done in the past. We see that he is putting in place the capacity to, to take action in short order and should he decide to invade, that is why we want to be prepared and in an area we have expressed serious concern about,” Psaki said.
The White House offered the measured warning to Putin in response to growing concern about a Russian buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the Kremlin.
There are signs that the White House and Kremlin are close to arranging a conversation next week between Biden and Putin. Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters Friday that arrangements have been made for a Putin-Biden call in the coming days.
Psaki said administration officials have “engaged in the possibility” of a Biden-Putin call.
“It certainly would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military buildup that we’re seeing on the border of Ukraine,” she said.
Psaki also commented about the suspended Iran nuclear talks, which took another pause on Friday.
After a monthlong hiatus in the talks, Iran returned to the negotiating table this week striking a hard line and signaling serious trouble for those hoping to restore the 2015 deal that saw Tehran strictly limit its enrichment of uranium.
The Iranian delegation, appointed by new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, called for the U.S. to unfreeze $10 billion in assets as an initial goodwill gesture.
Psaki said the new Iranian administration “did not come to Vienna with constructive proposals.”
“If Iran is equally committed, a solution is at hand,” Psaki added, “but we did not see that from them this week.”