US President Joe Biden will hold a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (Dec. 30) to discuss a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia, the White House said.
The call, which was requested by Putin according to an administration official, will take place at 3:30 p.m. ET (2030 GMT) and will be the second direct contact between the two leaders this month.
“The issues that are on the agenda are extremely complicated,” the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov said. “Since the last conversation (between Putin and Biden), the Russian side has formulated its position, as promised by President Putin, it was set forth in two draft documents that were brought to the attention of Washington and a few European capitals” Peskov added.
Biden accepted Putin’s request for a phone call because “he believes when it comes to Russia there is no substitute for direct leader-leader dialogue.”
“The Biden Administration continues to engage in extensive diplomacy with our European Allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine. President Biden has spoken with leaders across Europe, and Biden Administration officials have engaged multilaterally with NATO, the EU, and the OSCE. Officials have also held numerous consultations with their counterparts, including those from eastern flank countries bilaterally and in the Bucharest Nine (B9) format as well as Ukraine” the White House statement read.
The Bucharest 9 Initiative was launched by Poland and Romania in 2014 by the Presidents of the 9 countries ( Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia). Its aim is to consolidate views on issues of interest in NATO for the participating nations, and to support joint security projects.
More than 100,000 Russian troops are stationed near Ukraine, and US intelligence has warned that Russia could launch a large-scale invasion as early as January. Russia denies planning to attack Ukraine and says it is entitled to move its troops freely on its own soil.
Moscow, worried by what it says is the West’s re-arming of Ukraine, has said it wants legally-binding guarantees NATO will not expand further eastwards, and that certain offensive weapons will not be sent to Ukraine or other neighboring countries. Ukraine is not a NATO member, it has close ties with the bloc.
On Jan. 10, U.S. and Russian officials are due to hold security talks in Geneva, Switzerland but Biden and Putin are not expected to participate. Russia and NATO are also set to hold talks in Europe on Jan. 12, with a broader meeting including Moscow, Washington and other European countries slated for Jan. 13.
No compromises reached during call
Putin and Biden exchanged warnings over the crisis in Ukraine during a 50-minute phone call late on Thursday (Dec. 30).
“President Biden urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”
The Kremlin, meanwhile, said that Putin told his US counterpart that new sanctions over Ukraine could totally rupture ties between Russia and the US and represent a colossal mistake.
Washington and its European allies have warned Moscow to expect severe economic sanctions if troops do cross into Ukraine.
“Our president immediately responded that if the west decides in this or other circumstances to impose these unprecedented sanctions which have been mentioned then that could lead to a complete breakdown in ties between our countries and cause the most serious damage to relations between Russia and the west ”Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“Our president also mentioned that it would be a mistake that our descendants would see as a huge error” Ushakov added.
While the tone of the call was constructive, according to the Kremlin aide,
no compromises had been reached.
With reporting by Reuters, CNN, AFP, The Guardian