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Biden says he’s preparing initiatives to make it difficult for Putin to ‘do what people are worried he may do’ in Ukraine

<i>ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/getty Images</i><br/>President Joe Biden
AFP via Getty Images
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/getty Images
President Joe Biden

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN

President Joe Biden said Friday he is preparing a “set of initiatives” to make it more difficult for Russian President Vladimir Putin to “do what people are worried he may do” — namely, having Russia invade Ukraine.

Following a speech at the White House about the latest jobs report, Biden told reporters that he’s been in “constant contact” with European allies and Ukrainian officials.

“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do. But that’s in play right now,” he added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that if Russia comes into confrontation with Ukraine, the US will respond with “a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past.”

And while the US continues to deliberate what kind of military aid to send to Ukraine in the face of the Russian buildup, Blinken also made clear that “should Russia reject diplomacy and reinvade Ukraine, we will be prepared to act.”

Russian forces have capabilities in place along the Ukraine border to carry out a swift and immediate invasion, including erecting supply lines such as medical units and fuel that could sustain a drawn-out conflict, should Moscow choose to invade, two sources familiar with the latest intelligence assessments recently told CNN.

The new details about the Russian buildup underscore US officials’ heightened alarm over the movements. The current levels of equipment stationed in the area could supply front-line forces for seven to 10 days and other support units for as long as a month, according to one source familiar with the matter.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that he believes Russia is positioned to invade “when they want,” adding that “Russia’s capabilities would be equivalent to a modern-day blitzkrieg.”

A senior administration official told CNN that the US has “seen additional Russia troops added to the border region in recent days,” but the source declined to detail how many troops.

Russia has denied in recent days that it has any plans to attack Ukraine but has also demanded security guarantees from the West, such as a pledge that it won’t allow Ukraine to join NATO.

Blinken said Thursday that he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to report the details of their meeting back to Biden and Vladimir Putin respectively and that the two presidents “may have the opportunity to speak directly in the near future.”

“It’s now on Russia to deescalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning forces to normal peacetime positions, and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilize Ukraine,” Blinken said at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

However, following his jobs report speech on Friday at the White House, the President told reporters he had not spoken to Putin earlier in the day.

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CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Natasha Bertrand and Michael Conte contributed to this report.

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