The Biden-Putin Video Meeting: Two Hours of Mutual Warnings
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked for about two hours on a secure video link on Tuesday amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, world media reported.
In a statement, the White House said Biden had expressed "deep concern from the United States and its European allies over the build-up of Russian troops around Ukraine, and indicated that the United States and its allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the case of military escalation."
Biden also reaffirmed his support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy, the statement said.
Putin entered the meeting seeking assurances from Biden that NATO would never expand to include Ukraine, which has long sought membership, the Associated Press reported. The Americans and their NATO allies had said in advance that Putin's request was not a good start, the agency recalled.
Putin has called for the responsibility for the escalation of the situation around Ukraine not to be shifted "on the shoulders of Russia", the Kremlin's press service reported, quoted by TASS.
The statement notes that the problems related to the internal Ukrainian crisis and the lack of progress in the implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreements, which are the indisputable basis for its peaceful settlement, have dominated the conversation.
"The Russian president illustrated with concrete examples the destructive line of Kiev, aimed at the complete dismantling of the Minsk agreements and the agreements reached in the Normandy format, expressed serious concern about Kiev's provocative actions against Donbass," the press service said.
According to media, Biden stressed the alleged "threatening" nature of Russian military movements near Ukraine's borders and outlined sanctions that the United States and its allies would be prepared to implement in the event of a further escalation of the situation.
"In response, Vladimir Putin stressed that responsibility should not be shifted to Russia, as NATO is making dangerous attempts to seize Ukrainian territory and increase military capabilities on our borders. That is why Russia is seriously interested in receiving reliable, legally fixed guarantees, excluding NATO's expansion to the east and the deployment of offensive weapons systems in countries bordering Russia," the Kremlin said in a statement.
The leaders agreed that their representatives would enter into consultations on these sensitive issues, the press service of the Russian head of state summed up. The White House statement confirmed this, noting that Washington intends to hold consultations "in close coordination with allies and partners."
"We are now ready to do things we did not do in 2014 if Russia invades Ukraine."
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden had told Putin that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States and its allies would respond with economic measures, Reuters reported.
Biden has warned Putin of "strong economic and other measures" as punishment if Moscow starts a military conflict.
"There were a lot of compromises, there was no waving, but the president was crystal clear about the US position on all these issues," Sullivan told reporters.
He said Biden welcomed the possibility of a direct dialogue with Putin.
Sullivan added that the United States does not believe Putin has decided whether to invade Ukraine. He added that the United States would respond positively to expected Allied pressure to deploy US forces in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"Now we are ready to do things we did not do in 2014 if Russia invades Ukraine," he said.
The adviser noted that the United States continues to supply defense products to Ukraine.
Sullivan added that Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain after meeting with Putin. He said the US president would hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.
Other topics discussed at the video meeting were the US-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, cyberattacks, and joint work on regional issues such as Iran, the White House said in a statement.
A photo of the meeting released by him showed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Russia and Central Asia Senior Director Eric Green sitting next to Biden in the Situation Room during a video call, CNN reported.
The meeting between the two leaders began at 5:07 p.m. Bulgarian time and ended at 7:08 p.m., according to the White House.
Today's conversation between Putin and Biden is the fifth since the US head of state took office.
On June 16 this year they met live in Geneva.
Macron called for calming of the tension
French President Emmanuel Macron said today that he wants to start work and a process to calm tensions with Moscow, AFP reported, quoted by BTA.
"Our strategy is to start work and a process of calming," Macron said in response to a question about possible new sanctions against Russia. "The idea is rather to try to re-engage Vladimir Putin in the coordination formats between us," he added, recalling the so-called Normandy format between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.
Macron added that the goal is to create a format that will help reduce tensions between Russia and NATO at a time when Moscow is not looking favorably on Kiev's possible accession to the North Atlantic Alliance.
Biden was scheduled to speak by telephone yesterday with Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of Italy and Britain Mario Draghi and Boris Johnson.
Meanwhile, US lawmakers have planned measures to deter Russia, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA. They were included in the US Defense Bill presented yesterday. Among them is the allocation of 300 million dollars to the Ukrainian armed forces.
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