On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin began virtual talks on Ukraine and other issues, according to Russian state television, amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack its southern neighbor.
Before the video conference, US officials said Biden would tell Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine, Russia and its banks could face the harshest economic sanctions yet.
They claimed the sanctions, which one source said could target Russia's largest banks as well as Moscow's ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies, were intended to dissuade Putin from attacking Ukraine with tens of thousands of troops massed near the border.
The Kremlin, which had stated prior to the meeting that it did not expect any breakthroughs, has denied such intentions and stated that its troop posture is defensive.
However, Moscow has expressed growing concern about Western military aid to Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic that has leaned toward the West since a popular uprising deposed a pro-Russian president in 2014, as well as what it calls NATO creeping expansion.
Moscow has also questioned Ukrainian intentions, saying it wants assurances that Kyiv will not use force to retake territory lost to Russia-backed separatists in 2014, a scenario Ukraine has ruled out.
"We're looking for good, predictable relations with the United States. Russia has never intended to attack anyone, but we have our concerns and we have our red lines," said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Calling for everyone to keep "a cool head", Peskov said it was vital that Putin and Biden speak given what he called the extraordinary escalation of tensions in Europe.