U.S. President Joe Biden talks virtually with service members, from South Court Auditorium in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden plans to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday, a White house official said, a day after Biden spoke with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on how to reduce tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border.

Biden will reaffirm support for Ukraine, discuss Russia’s military build-up on its borders and review preparations for diplomatic efforts to calm the situation in the region, the official said on Friday.

The U.S. and Russian leaders exchanged warnings over Ukraine in Thursday’s call but their countries voiced some optimism afterwards about planned security talks in January to address Russian military actions that drew the threat of sanctions from Washington and its allies.

The leaders’ exchange set the stage for lower-level engagement between the countries that includes the U.S.-Russia security meeting on Jan. 9-10, followed by a Russia-NATO session on Jan. 12, and a broader conference including Moscow, Washington and other European countries on Jan. 13.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to lay the groundwork for the talks on Friday in calls with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and others, the State Department said.

In conversations with the foreign ministers of Canada and Italy, Blinken discussed a united response to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine their consensus to impose “severe costs” on Moscow for any such actions.

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