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‘Total unanimity’ among key allies on response to any Russian attack on Ukraine.

Western leaders have been looking at preparations to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia” should it invade Ukraine, the White House has said.

As tensions over a potential Russian threat to Ukraine continued to increase , the US president Joe Biden said on Monday he ha d held a “great” call with several European leaders on the issue. He said there had been “total unanimity” among all the European leaders.

The White House said following the talks that the western leaders had “reiterated their continued concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and expressed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“The leaders underscored their shared desire for a diplomatic resolution to the current tensions and reviewed recent engagements with Russia in multiple formats. The leaders also discussed their joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including preparations to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia for such actions as well as to reinforce security on (the military alliance) Nato’s eastern flank.”

The Biden administration said the western leaders “committed to continued close consultation with transatlantic allies and partners, including working with and through the EU, Nato, and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe)”.

Among those who took part in the call with president Biden were European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel, president Emmanuel Macron of France, chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, prime minister Mario Draghi of Italy, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, president Andrzej Duda of Poland, and prime minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.

Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops close to the border of Ukraine which western countries believe could be a prelude to an invasion.

Russia has denied it plans to attack Ukraine.

The United States on Monday announced it had placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the move was aimed at bolstering NATO forces in eastern Europe if needed.

He said “we are not deploying them now” and still believe “there is time and space” for diplomacy.

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