By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press – 5h ago
© Provided by Associated PressUS soldiers line up during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, near the Black Sea port city of Constanta, eastern Romania, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. Stoltenberg paid an official visit to Romania on Friday, where he joined the country’s president Klaus Iohannis at a military airbase that will host some of the 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to the country as the alliance bolsters its forces on the eastern flank as tensions soar between Russia and Ukraine. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are to hold a high-stakes telephone call on Saturday as tensions over a possibly imminent invasion of Ukraine escalated sharply and the U.S. announced plans to evacuate its embassy in the Ukrainian capital.
Before talking to Biden, Putin is to have a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the crisis.
Russia has massed well over 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, but insistently denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine.
However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Saturday that the country has “optimized” staffing at its embassy in Kyiv, but said the move was in response to concerns about possible military actions from the Ukrainian side.
“We conclude that our American and British colleagues apparently know about some military actions being prepared in Ukraine that could significantly complicate the situation in the security sphere,” she said. “In this situation, fearing possible provocations by the Kyiv regime or third countries, we actually decided to somewhat optimize the staffing of Russian foreign missions in Ukraine.”