Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

US President Joe Biden on Thursday spoke for the second time this month with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, amid growing tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The phone call, arranged at Moscow’s request and announced on Wednesday, is the latest in a series of diplomatic efforts to defuse what has been described as a “moment of crisis” as Russia. collect about 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.

It also precedes negotiations between Washington, Moscow and NATO member states planned for early January, where Russia intends to insist on “security guarantees” to curb NATO expansion in Europe.

Although Russia’s leader has previously denied any plans to invade Ukraine, Putin last week refused to exclude a military solution and had previously warned that he had “all sorts” of options if his demands were not met.

The US has said that several of Russia’s proposals are not available for negotiation, but that it is open to discussing other Kremlin demands as it seeks ways to deter Moscow from military action.

Additional details on the content of the call will be announced later Thursday.

The call, which lasted just under an hour, also comes amid controversy over Russia’s role in Europe’s rising gas prices. Some European officials have accused Russian gas giant and major exporter Gazprom of withholding additional volumes as it aims to launch the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe – which is currently being approved by German regulators. stop.

Gazprom insists it is meeting all of its contractual obligations to supply gas to Europe, saying the record prices have killed demand for spot sales.

Russia feels a call is needed to explain both leaders’ positions since they last spoken on December 7 and before next month’s negotiations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier Thursday.

US and Russian officials will hold talks on January 10, followed by talks between Russia and NATO on January 12, and a wider meeting between Moscow and representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, expected in January. 13.

Ahead of the January summit, Russia said it was aiming to provide “legally binding security guarantees” for the country from the United States, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday – guaranteeing that NATO will not pursue eastward expansion. ”.

Putin described the threat of NATO enlargement as an existential crisis for Russia and made it clear that he sees the situation in eastern Ukraine as unresolved issues. The country witnessed a Russia-backed separatist uprising in 2014, after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, followed by a conflict that claimed at least 14,000 lives.

Speaking before the call on Thursday, Peskov said Russia was “focused on dialogue”, but added that the movement of Russian armed forces on Russian soil was its prerogative.

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