Saturday, December 3, 2022

Biden-Putin Talks: US Warns Of Consequences Over Ukraine As Russia Presses On NATO Buildup During Virtual Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden raised concerns over the military buildup of NATO forces in eastern Europe while the latter warned of consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.

Putin and Biden greeted each other with smiles at the start of the virtual meeting earlier on Tuesday, which lasted two hours. The two leaders primarily discussed matters concerning Ukraine but also touched on other subjects of mutual interest including efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, cybercrime, and strategic stability issues.

Putin conveyed that NATO was making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory and was building up its military potential near Russia’s border.

Moreover, the Russian president highlighted that Moscow was interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward and would not deploy offensive weapons in countries bordering Russia.

According to the Kremlin, the talks did not bring any breakthroughs but the leaders showed a desire to work and engage in dialogue.

Doubts have been raised by some experts as to whether any progress could be made especially in light of the ideological rigidity of the Biden administration.

Former senior Pentagon adviser Douglas Macgregor told Sputnik the United States has one number priority that it will fail to achieve.

“Washington has one interest in the current crisis – to prevent an unnecessary war between Ukraine and Russia, but Biden and his friends have deliberately ignored that interest because it would involve compromise,” Macgregor said. “As a morally righteous leftist, he [Biden] is incapable of compromising on anything. Therein lies the problem.”

PUTIN, BIDEN ADDRESS BILATERAL ISSUES

The two presidents addressed the overall state of the relationship which has been marred by disagreements that led to the downsizing of diplomatic footprints in both countries.

“Bilateral issues were discussed. It was stated that cooperation is still in an unsatisfactory state. This is manifested, in particular, in the difficulties that the ‘curtailed’ diplomatic missions of both countries are experiencing in their work,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

File:Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva, 16 June 2021 (05).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva, 16 June 2021 – Wikimedia Commons

Putin stressed that the diplomatic disputes are a consequence of the line of the American authorities, which five years ago began to practice large-scale restrictions, bans and mass expulsions of Russian diplomats, to which Russia had to react to in a reciprocal manner, the Kremlin said.

Putin offered to nullify all the accumulated restrictions on the functioning of diplomatic missions to help normalize other aspects of bilateral relations, the Kremlin said.

However, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that Biden did not make commitments to Putin to resolve issues related to operations of and staffing at their respective diplomatic missions.

Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said Biden told Putin that, as a first step, Russian diplomats could be allowed to see confiscated diplomatic property to assess its condition.

Russia and the United States will need not a month or even a year to solve the numerous problems in relations. Putin and Biden believe it is necessary to seek to normalize the relations and develop cooperation, Ushakov said.

Biden and Putin acknowledged the special responsibility the two countries have to maintain peace and stability, Ushakov said. The two leaders agreed to task teams to follow up on the meeting while the US closely coordinates with allies, he added.

BIDEN THREATENS SANCTIONS, MORE DEFENSE AID TO UKRAINE

Biden told Putin the United States and its allies would impose large-scale economic sanctions against Russia should it invade Ukraine and hinted at efforts to halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Sullivan during a White House press briefing on Tuesday said Russia should not invade Ukraine if Putin wants to see gas flow through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“When it comes to Nord Stream 2, the fact is that gas is not currently flowing through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which means it’s not operating, which means that it’s not leverage for Putin. Indeed, it is leverage for the West, because if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the United States will not discuss in public the specifics of the anti-Russia sanctions being considered, but Russia has been fully informed about the matter.

Moreover, Biden told Putin that the United States would provide additional defense aid to Kiev beyond what it currently provides, Sullivan said. In addition, the United States would also provide support to NATO allies in the Alliance’s eastern flank should Russia invade Ukraine.

Sullivan said the US president made no concessions regarding whether or not to allow Ukraine entry into NATO during the call.

Biden immediately briefed European leaders about his call with his Russian counterpart and they underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, the White House said in a readout of the call.

The United States is in constant contact with Ukraine, which has come forward with ideas on how to use diplomacy to resolve tensions with Russia, Sullivan said, adding that Biden is expected to talk with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

The Biden administration still does not believe that Putin has made a decision about whether to invade Ukraine, Sullivan said.

Later, senior diplomat Victoria Nuland told Congress the US will work to isolate Russia from the global financial system should it invade Ukraine.

PUTIN RAISES CONCERNS OVER NATO MILITARY ACTIVITY NEAR RUSSIA

Putin bluntly told Biden that Russia is worried about the military activity buildup by Ukraine and NATO. He said Putin touched upon the recent NATO drills in the Black Sea, Ushakov said.

“I can tell you that issues related to providing us with the necessary security guarantees, including in the context of non-deployment of offensive arms and non-advancement of NATO further to the East – these issues, of course, would be logical to discuss in the group on strategic stability,” Ushakov said.

The Russian presidential aide added that Putin told the US president that the “red lines” for Moscow are the further advance of NATO to the east and NATO’s deployment of offensive weapons in Ukraine.

The Kremlin said Putin and Biden also discussed the implementation of results of the bilateral summit held in Geneva in June. Moreover, Putin informed Biden about Ukraine’s failure to comply with the Minsk agreements, Ushakov said.

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