Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned his US counterpart Joe Biden that imposing new sanctions over Ukraine could lead to a complete breakdown in relations. In a phone call yesterday, the Russian president said such sanctions would be a colossal mistake. Mr Biden, meanwhile, told Mr Putin that the US and its allies would respond decisively to any invasion of Ukraine.

The call, requested by Russia, was their second such conversation this month and lasted for almost an hour. It marked the latest effort to defuse tensions over Ukraine's eastern border with Russia, where Ukrainian officials say more than 1 lakh Russian troops have been sent.

Russia, however, denies it is planning to invade the country and says the troops are there for exercises. It says it is entitled to move its troops freely on its own soil.

Although the two sides exchanged warnings during the call, Russian foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters shortly after that Mr Putin was pleased with the conversation. He added that it had created a good backdrop for future talks.

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