Tense fighting in Ukraine sets off a diplomatic scramble.

As fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine mount, President Biden is set to speak with global allies on Friday afternoon about Moscow’s buildup of military troops, in a continued effort to deter any hostile advances on its neighbor.

While the American leader has said “there is a path” to a diplomatic resolution, Mr. Biden has also warned that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could launch an invasion within several days.

Washington and Moscow have been trading conflicting accounts over whether Russian forces are really pulling back from the Ukrainian border, with Russia insisting that it has no plans to invade and dismissing the American warnings as “information terrorism.” A heated exchange of artillery fire on Thursday between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces, the most intense in months, amplified the tensions.

The separatists claimed on Thursday that they had come under fire from Ukrainians, the type of fighting that Western officials have warned Moscow might try to use to justify military action. The Ukrainian military said that shelling at a kindergarten had wounded three adult civilians.

The fighting set off another diplomatic scramble. A White House official said that Mr. Biden would host a phone call with trans-Atlantic leaders in “continued efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy.” It is unclear who will join.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Thursday made an unscheduled trip to New York, where he told the United Nations Security Council that Moscow appeared to be setting the stage for an attack. Mr. Blinken also accepted a proposal to meet with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, late next week.

A State Department spokesman, Ned Price, did not provide a time or place for the meeting, the diplomats’ second in two months, except to say that it would not happen if Russia attacked Ukraine. “If they do invade in the coming days, it will make clear they were never serious about diplomacy,” Mr. Price said in a statement.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, also offered an ominous assessment on Thursday. “The excessive concentration of Ukrainian forces near the contact line, together with possible provocations, can pose terrible danger,” he said.

Leave a Reply