An expected call between them.. Biden will offer Putin a diplomatic path on the tension in Ukraine
The White House announced that US President Joe Biden will call his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss a number of issues, foremost of which is the ongoing tension over Ukraine.
A White House official confirmed that President Biden, who is spending the New Year’s holiday at his home in Delaware, will offer his Russian counterpart a “diplomatic track” on the tension in Ukraine during the call.
He stressed that the United States is still “very concerned” about the presence of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, and will also be “prepared to respond if Russia launches a new invasion of Ukraine.”
The White House official noted that Washington “would like to see troops return to their normal training areas.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said the two presidents will discuss a number of topics, including upcoming diplomatic talks with Russia.
“The Biden administration continues to engage in intense diplomacy with our European allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to the Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine,” Horne said in a statement Wednesday.
In turn, the Kremlin confirmed the news of the planned phone call, and the “Interfax” news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that the talks are planned to be held in the evening, and neither Washington nor Moscow set an initial date for them.
This will be the second phone call in less than a month between the two leaders, after Biden warned Putin in early December of “serious consequences” if Russia invaded Ukraine.
In this context, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke by phone on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I received assurances of the full support of the United States of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter following the call.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the face of the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.
According to Western officials, Russia has amassed tens of thousands of soldiers on the border with Ukraine, amid fears of a repeat of what happened in 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimea.
In an effort to defuse tensions, senior US and Russian officials are scheduled to meet on January 10 in Geneva.
The meeting comes after Russia presented proposals to the United States that included calls not to expand NATO’s membership in eastern Europe or to establish bases in the former Soviet Union.