Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Virtual talks between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have ended, with the two leaders discussing a series of issues amid increasing voltage about Russia’s military build – up near Ukraine.

“Greetings, Mr. President,” Putin said in a short video clip released by the Kremlin at Tuesday’s meeting. Biden said it was “good to see” his Russian counterpart, adding that he hopes their next session will be personal.

In a statement after the call, the White House said Biden had “expressed the deep concern” of the US and its European allies “over Russia’s escalation of forces around Ukraine” and made it clear that they would “respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation ”.

“President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy. “The two presidents have instructed their teams to follow up, and the US will do so in close coordination with allies and partners,” the statement said.

The meeting on Tuesday, which according to the White House lasted two hours and one minute, took place amid weeks of growing tensions over a Russian military build-up near the country’s border with Ukraine.

Ukraine said 94,000 Russian troops had been mustered along the border in the second such build-up so far this year, prompting a series of warnings from top Biden administration officials who want Moscow to refrain from “significant aggressive movements“against Kiev.

Biden said before the summit that he was prepared to warn Putin of “high impact economic measures” if Moscow decides to invasion Ukraine, rather, calls on the Russian president to take a diplomatic path.

Putin, in turn, sought guarantees from Biden that the US and NATO would not advance military operations in Ukraine.

In 2014, Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists seized a piece of territory in eastern Ukraine, setting a conflict on fire that continues to this day.

Putin said Moscow wanted a guarantee that NATO would not entertain Ukraine as a potential future member. Officials from the Biden administration rejected that claim, noting that only NATO members decide when other nations join the security alliance.

“NATO member states decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia. “This is how the process has always been and how it will continue,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said on Monday ahead of the Biden-Putin call.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier in Tuesday in Moscow that Putin would convey Russia’s concerns about US military involvement in Ukraine and NATO’s eastern expansion into former Soviet states.

Before the call, Peskov told reporters that “Russia has never planned to attack anyone. But we have our own concerns, our own red lines – the president has clearly spoken about it. “

“Putin has repeatedly said that we are looking for good, predictable relations with the United States,” Peskov told reporters before the call with Biden, warning that relations between the United States and Russia were in a “rather dire situation”. and is “rather deplorable”. ”.

US talks to European allies

In light of Russia’s military build – up, the US and its European allies have stressed a commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on Russia to reduce tensions and seek a solution through diplomacy.

Biden held a conference on Monday with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to discuss the situation.

“The leaders discussed their shared concern about Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric,” the White House said in a statement after the call. “The leaders emphasized their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The leaders also called on Russia and Ukraine to return to negotiations mediated by France and Germany to find a solution. border dispute in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and implementation of the “Minsk agreements”, some ceasefire agreements reached in 2014 and 2015.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday ahead of the Putin-Biden call.

The top US diplomat “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression”. After the call, Zelenskyy tweeted his gratitude for American support.

A Senior Biden Administration Officer said Monday that Biden is expected to speak to Zelenskyy in the coming days as well.

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