President Joe Biden spoke to Volodymyr Zelensky for about 40 minutes on Friday after the Ukrainian president took to the streets of Kiev to say, “We’re still here.”
“From 11:52 a.m. to 12:32 p.m. ET today, President Biden held a secure conversation with President Zelensky,” the White House said in a statement.
Zelenskiy said the two men discussed tougher sanctions on Russia and increased US support.
“Increased sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed with @POTUS. Thankful [United States] for strong support [Ukraine]!,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zelenskiy has criticized the lack of support from the United States and its allies. He also fought a Russian disinformation campaign that he had fled Kiev.
‘We are here. We are in Kiev. We are defending Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video posted on Facebook. He spoke on the streets of Kiev, the night sky was visible behind him.
It’s unclear how much support Biden offered to Zelensky, who said he was “number one target” for Russian assassins and his wife and children “number two.”
There are fears that he could be killed and replaced by Putin’s puppet.
Before the phone call, Biden met virtually with other NATO members on Friday morning to reassure eastern allies that they would be protected as Russian troops prepared to enter Kiev.
U.S. intelligence officials are worried the Ukrainian capital could fall within days, CNN reported, as Russian troops are within 20 miles of its location and residents are being urged to make Molotov cocktails to help defend the city.
Amid reports that the Kremlin is after him, Zelensky has criticized the United States and its allies for leaving their country to fight alone.
“Who is ready to fight with us? I don’t see anyone,” he said on Thursday evening. “Who is ready to give Ukraine guarantees of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.
“We are defending our country alone. The most powerful forces in the world are watching this from afar,” Zelensky said.
After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-nation organization would send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a forward rapid deployment unit to the alliance’s eastern flank. This is the first time that force has been used to protect NATO allies.
“We are now deploying the NATO Response Force for the first time in the context of collective defence. We are talking about thousands of soldiers. We are talking about air and sea capabilities,” Stoltenberg said.
President Joe Biden will hold a virtual meeting with other NATO members on Friday morning to reassure eastern allies that they will be protected.
The Ukrainian National Guard lined up on the streets of Kiev on Friday, preparing to defend the city from a Russian attack, shortly before heavy gunshots and explosions were heard.
The brave Ukrainian citizen was filmed apparently trying to stop a convoy of Russian Tiger-M combat vehicles, similar to American Hummers, moving along a highway near Crimea in scenes reminiscent of a “tank driver” in Tiananmen Square.
US intelligence has reported Russian plans for a military takeover of Kiev and an early end to the war in Ukraine, which say troops and armored vehicles will be used to capture airfields before 10,000 paratroopers are deployed to capture the city. surround the government and force them to sign a peace agreement to return control of the country to Russia.
President Joe Biden (top left) attends a NATO meeting
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg convenes leaders for virtual summit
General view of the conference room during the virtual summit convened by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin offered to send a delegation to Belarus to negotiate with Ukraine, but only on strict conditions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk. But Peskov made it clear that Russia expects from Ukraine the “denazification and demilitarization” of Ukraine, that is, the surrender of Kiev.
Some NATO countries are already taking defensive measures as Russian aggression intensifies.
Lithuania declared a state of emergency on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to enter Ukraine. Lithuania borders on the Kaliningrad region of Russia in the southwest. NATO members Belarus in the east, Latvia in the north and Poland in the south.
“We don’t have the luxury of being (a) a debating club,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told an emergency summit of European Union leaders last night that was supposed to impose a “high price” on Russia through sanctions. “We must take action.”
The Baltic members said that the West should “urgently provide the Ukrainian people with weapons, ammunition and any other military support for self-defense, as well as economic, financial and political assistance and support, humanitarian aid.”
NATO began beefing up its defenses in northeastern Europe after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Recently, some members have also sent troops, aircraft and warships to the Black Sea region, close to allies Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
In the short term, NATO has activated a contingency planning system to enable commanders to move forces faster. On Thursday, the Pentagon said it was sending 7,000 troops to Europe, in addition to 5,000 newly deployed troops.
Independence Square in the center of Kiev, Ukraine
Ukrainian military take positions in the center of Kiev
Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine take positions in the center of Kiev
In addition, pressure is mounting on Biden to personally impose sanctions on Putin. The US has already imposed sanctions on several members of Putin’s inner circle and many Russian oligarchs who profited from his regime.
On Thursday, Biden said sanctions on the Russian leader remain “under discussion” but declined to answer the question of why Putin has not yet been personally targeted.
The European Union will freeze the assets of Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but will not impose a travel ban on them, according to the New York Times.