Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden Video Call Comes As US, Russia Exchange Threats Over Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden will face each other virtually on Tuesday – six months after meeting in person in Geneva – as the two world leaders have much to say to each other and discuss a range of topics from the Ukraine crisis to cybersecurity.

The landmark summit in Geneva on June 16 marked the first meeting between Putin and Biden, which the presidents themselves assessed as productive.

The two leaders agreed back then to launch consultations on strategic stability, as well as adopted a joint statement reaffirming commitment to the 1985 formula by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

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

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a secure video link between the US and Russia would be used for the first time for the call, which is expected to take place at roughly 10:00 a.m. ET (6:00 p.m. Moscow time). Peskov said Putin does not plan to make a statement following the conversation.

UKRAINE TENSIONS TOP AGENDA

The call comes as tensions run high over Russia’s activities near the Ukraine border – with the US even threatening to deploy troops to the area if Moscow orders an invasion.

Moscow previously confirmed that they were expected to hold marathon talks on Ukraine tensions and the growing NATO presence near Russian borders, as well as touch upon the implementation of Geneva summit results. The Kremlin has expressed concerns about NATO and Washington being adamant that they do not recognize any red lines.

Meanwhile, a US administration official said that at the upcoming meeting with Putin, Biden will raise concerns about the buildup of Russian military forces near the border with Ukraine along with other critical issues, such as cyber security and the Iran nuclear program.

“One could anticipate that in the event of an invasion, the need to reinforce the confidence and reassurance of our NATO allies and our eastern flank allies would be real, and the United States would be prepared to provide that kind of reassurance,” the official said on Monday.

The Kremlin expects the agenda may include the issue of reaching legal agreements that exclude any further NATO expansion to the east, the official said, noting that Russia needs guarantees that NATO will not further expand, as verbal assurances from the United States are worthless.

Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow can see NATO is now demonstrating an “extremely aggressive” position. He said it is clear in the rheteoric of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and various representatives of the United States.

Russia has repeatedly said that it stands by its right to move armed forces freely within its territory.

On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia does not have any aggressive plans with regard to Ukraine. The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about Kiev having aggregated almost half of all its armed forces on the contact line with the Donbas region in the east of the country.

Moscow has said the sides may also discuss the issues of strategic stability and the holding of a summit of permanent members of the UN Security Council. Another issue on the table may be the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, as well as the oil market.

Washington has signaled ahead of the call that the United States does not seek conflict and believes the two sides can work together on issues like strategic stability and arms control.

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