Sanctions will cause 'complete breakdown' in US-Russia relations, Putin warns Biden

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By Michael Daventry  with AP
Russian president Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Moscow on Thursday
Russian president Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Moscow on Thursday   -  Copyright  Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik via AP

Vladimir Putin has warned Joe Biden there would be a complete breakdown in relations between Russia and the United States if new sanctions were imposed because of tensions in Ukraine.

The Russian president said it would be a “colossal mistake” in a phone call with his US counterpart that ended early on Friday morning.

The two leaders spoke for 50 minutes after Putin requested the conversation, their second direct call this month.

Biden said economic measures would be taken if Russia were to invade Ukraine, where there has been a steady build-up of Russian troops on the border in recent weeks.

The Kremlin has demanded a firm guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO and the alliance will not position military equipment in former Soviet states, including Georgia.

Putin told Biden that Russia would act in the same fashion as the US if weapons were deployed close to its own borders.

But the Biden administration has rejected the demands.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”

The US president added that his country was ready to exact substantial economic pain through sanctions should Putin decide to take military action in Ukraine.

Putin responded by saying that “would be a mistake that our ancestors would see as a grave error. A lot of mistakes have been made over the past 30 years, and we would better avoid more such mistakes in this situation,” his foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said.