“I don’t want to use a public press call to talk about the particular sensitive challenges that President Biden will lay out for President Putin,” the official said. “But I would say that the United States is not seeking to end up in a circumstance in which the focus of our countermeasures is the direct use of American military force.” The official also outlined further communication to take place between the United States and its allies both before and after Biden and Putin’s secure video call: Biden will speak with “key European allies” later Monday and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “in advance of” the Biden-Putin call. Biden will speak with Zelensky “in the days following” the call with Putin, the official added. The threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine has ramped up over the past week, with the Washington Post first reporting last Friday that U.S. intelligence officials suspect Moscow is planning a multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops that could take place as soon as early next year. Meanwhile, U.S. officials have escalated their warnings that Washington will retaliate if Moscow moves its forces across the border into Ukraine, as it previously did in 2014. Blinken, speaking last Wednesday at the conclusion of a North Atlantic Treaty Alliance meeting in Latvia, cautioned that the United States is “prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine.” “We’ve made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past,” Blinken said. Last Thursday, Blinken met face-to-face with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last Thursday in Sweden. Following that session, Blinken told reporters at a news conference that he “made very clear our deep concerns and our resolve to hold Russia responsible for its actions, including our commitment to work with Eu . . . read the full article here.