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Possible Biden-Putin summit on the table as U.S. warns Russia preparing "full-scale assault" on Ukraine

Ukraine denies Russian report of 5 killed
Ukraine denies Russian report of 5 killed at border 05:46

Kyiv, Ukraine — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in principle on Sunday to meet, either in person or via video link, as diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis on Ukraine's borders took on new urgency with U.S. officials telling CBS News that Putin had ordered his troops to proceed with plans to invade. 

A U.S. official told CBS News that intelligence indicated Russian commanders had received orders to proceed with an invasion of Ukraine and were making specific plans for how to maneuver on the battlefield. The White House made it clear on Sunday that a Biden-Putin summit would not happen if Russia did invade Ukraine.

The Kremlin said Monday that it was "premature" to discuss any concrete plans for a summit, but confirmed that Putin was ready to meet Mr. Biden if the two countries' top diplomats are able to lay the groundwork.

"We are not the country that will give up": Inside Ukraine as it faces Russia 13:34

"The meeting is possible if the heads of state consider it appropriate. Now there is a clear, concrete understanding of the need to continue the dialogue at the level of the ministers," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Monday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are scheduled to meet Thursday — if Russia doesn't launch an invasion before then.

"We are always ready for diplomacy.  We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday. "Currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon," she added.

A member of the Ukrainian government military forces looks through a telescope from his position on the front line with Russia backed separatists, near Novognativka village in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, February 21, 2022. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty

The announcement of a possible summit between the U.S. and Russian leaders was made by the office of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spent Sunday on the phone with both presidents brokering the tentative agreement.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday requested an urgent meeting of U.N. Security Council nations — not necessarily a meeting at the Council — to discuss ways to de-escalate the crisis in the region, as well as the security of his country, reports CBS News' Pamela Falk.

CBS News' Pamela Falk at U.N. headquarters said as Russia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, Moscow gets to decide whether to convene the meeting — unless a Security Council member nation - which Ukraine is not - joins Ukraine's call for it to happen. If that happens, diplomats told Falk that Russia is likely to try to block the meeting.  

Clashes, claims and denials

Shelling has intensified, meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine along the line of contact between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. 

The conflict in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region has simmered for almost eight years, claiming about 14,000 lives, according to Ukrainian officials. But the crossfire increased significantly about a week ago amid warnings from U.S. officials that Russia could stage "false-flag" operations — incidents blamed on Ukrainian forces that Moscow could use as a pretext to invade.

Ukraine-Russia map
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The Russian-backed rebels claimed on Monday that four civilians had been killed in their territory in Donbas over the last 24 hours, according to The Associated Press. 

Russian security officials were quoted by the country's media, meanwhile, as saying a shell from Ukraine had struck a guard post just across the border, inside Russia's Rostov region. There were no casualties reported in that alleged strike, but then there was a more serious accusation.

Russia's military claimed that two vehicles carrying Ukrainian "saboteurs" into Russia had been destroyed, and that "as a result of clashes, five people who violated the Russian border" were killed.

It was the first claim by Russia that Ukrainians had breached the country's border — a claim that was quickly labeled "fake news" by Ukraine's government, which said there were no Ukrainian forces operating in Russia's Rostov border region.

Thousands of ethnic Russian civilians from Ukraine's rebel-occupied Donbas region have poured across the border into Rostov in recent days after being urged to do so by the separatist administrations there. 

Rebels evacuate civilians to Russia amid crisis 02:29

The rebels said the evacuation of women and children was necessary due to purported Ukrainian shelling and plans to attack the region.  

Ukraine has denied attacking rebel-held territory, or firing any shells into Russian territory, saying instead that the separatists have been "cynically firing from residential areas using civilians as shields."

The Ukrainian military's policy for years has been not to return fire along the front line unless there's deemed to be an imminent threat to life.

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