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Biden, Putin Set Video Call For Next Week To Discuss Ukraine, Other Issues.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a secure video call on December 7 to discuss Ukraine and other topics, the White House and Kremlin have confirmed.

The virtual meeting comes amid growing international concern about Moscow's intentions as NATO and Western military and intelligence officials cite a major Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border.

Washington and Kyiv say Moscow has amassed tens of thousands of troops along with tanks and artillery in western Russia and could be planning an offensive as early as January.

Reuters quoted an unnamed administration official as saying Biden plans to stress U.S. concerns about the Russian military activity and U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On December 2, Biden said he was working on a set of initiatives to make it "very, very difficult" for Putin to escalate militarily against Ukraine.

Ukraine has been fighting a seven-year war against Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since Russia forcibly seized Crimea in 2014.

The unnamed White House official said Biden and Putin would also discuss a wide range of other topics.

Russia has lent diplomatic and military support to another former Soviet republic, Belarus, amid a 16-month crackdown on protests that followed the disputed reelection claim of Alyaksandr Lukashenka to a sixth presidential term.

A crisis has simmered at Belarus's border with EU members Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland since Minsk increased direct flights from the Middle East in what the European Union has called a "weaponization" of third-country migrants.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax

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