Friday, January 21

Ukraine: Biden and Putin advocate “diplomacy” and “dialogue” before their meeting

The American and Russian presidents affirmed, a few hours of an interview Thursday, their willingness to dialogue to resolve the deep Russian-Western tensions, against a background of fear of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Joe Biden intends to propose, according to the White House, a “diplomatic channel” to get out of the crisis during their phone call, the second in less than a month.

Vladimir Poutine for his part said he was “convinced”, in his New Year’s greetings to the American president, that an “effective” dialogue “based on mutual respect” was possible, recalling the summit in June in Geneva which brought together the two men.

“Only the path of negotiations can resolve the abundance of immediate problems between us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added later.

During their meeting, scheduled for around 8:30 p.m. GMT, Joe Biden should however stress that the United States remains “deeply concerned” about the presence of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine and that they will be “prepared for respond “in the event of a military offensive, according to a White House official.

Washington “would like to see the troops return to their usual training areas,” the source said.

Moscow, in the run-up to Russian-American talks on January 10 in Geneva, keeps repeating that the top priority is the negotiation of two treaties redefining the security balance and architecture of Europe.

For the Kremlin, Russia’s security requires the prohibition of any expansion of the Atlantic Alliance and the end of Western military activities near Russian borders, an area that Moscow considers to fall within its area of ​​influence.

– Exorbitant costs –

According to the Russians, these demands are the only ones capable of containing the escalation of tensions, with Russia considering in particular the support of the United States, NATO and the EU to Ukraine as a direct threat to its security. and his interests.

Joe Biden for his part continues to consult “his allies and partners,” said National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the one hand, and his French, German and British counterparts on the other.

The Ukrainian president said he was assured of “full American support” to “counter a Russian attack”.

With French Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Annalena Baerbock and British Liz Truss, Antony Blinken reaffirmed their “consensus” to “impose massive consequences and exorbitant costs on Russia” if necessary.

– No concession –

In a previous telephone conversation at the beginning of December between Joe Biden and Vladimir Poutine, the American president threatened his counterpart with sanctions “as he has never seen” in the event of an attack against Ukraine.

Westerners have so far ruled out a military response to a possible Russian invasion. And the Kremlin has brushed aside threats of sanctions.

Russia and its elite are already the subject of multiple economic reprisals because of the Ukrainian issue and the repression in the country, but none of these measures have changed the Kremlin’s line, quite the contrary.

Moscow also denies threatening Ukraine, although it has already annexed part of the territory, Crimea, in 2014, and says it must protect itself against the hostility of Westerners who support Kiev, especially in its conflict with pro-separatists. -Russians.

The latter, despite Russian denials, are widely considered to be under the orders of the Kremlin.

Sign that the talks of January 10 in Geneva on Ukraine but also strategic stability will be bitter, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov has ruled out any “concession”.

The United States had previously warned that some Russian requests were “unacceptable”.

These discussions will be followed on January 12 by a Russia-NATO meeting, then on January 13 by a meeting within the framework of the OSCE.

“For what will follow, we will see depending on the disposition of the United States and NATO to have a concrete discussion on our concerns,” said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russian diplomacy, on Thursday.


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