President Joe Biden will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday for their final conversation of the year.
Senior White House officials said Wednesday that the call was scheduled at the request of the Kremlin, which was welcomed by Biden, as he believes "that there is no substitute for direct leader-to-leader dialogue and engagement."
"The two presidents will discuss the upcoming dialogues with Russia on a range of security and strategic issues. Those include bilateral talks through the Strategic Stability Dialogue, as well as the NATO-Russia Council, and the OSCE Permanent Council meeting, all of which will take place the week of January 10th," officials added. "Russia has put its concerns on the table and we are prepared to discuss them. The United States and our allies and partners will put our concerns on the table and expect Russia to be prepared to discuss them as well."
WHAT IS VLADIMIR PUTIN AFRAID OF?
"The President will emphasize this to President Putin — we are united with our allies in our willingness to engage in principled diplomacy with Russia. We are prepared to discuss the security and strategic matters that have now been the subject of both private and public debate and discussion over the course of the past days and weeks," officials continued. "President Biden will make clear that there is a diplomatic path to deescalating tensions in the region if President Putin is interested in taking it."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday about Russia's military presence on the Ukrainian border and to "coordinate" ahead of Biden's call with Putin.
Pressed during a Q&A session, senior administration officials could not say why the Russians requested the call with Biden, though they added that the president will use it as an opportunity to share directly with Putin a list of "concerns." Officials said the White House would not "publish a document or a draft agreement the way that the Russian side has done" detailing the president's concerns and demands.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
This is a developing story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.