Biden vows diplomacy ahead of call with Putin over Ukraine tensions

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US President Joe Biden will speak by phone this afternoon with his Russian counterpart, a senior administration official said Wednesday, adding that the leader American will seek a diplomatic solution to escalating tension along Russia’s border with Ukraine.

“We are prepared for diplomacy and for a forward diplomatic path,” the official told reporters on Wednesday. “But we are also prepared to respond if Russia advances with a new invasion of Ukraine.”

The call, requested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, comes ahead of long-awaited high-level talks in Geneva on January 10. Neither of the two presidents are expected to participate in those talks, the official said.

This is the second call this month between the two leaders, who also spoke in early December about what were then about 70,000 soldiers gathered on the Russian side of the border, according to intelligence estimates from satellite images. But US intelligence analysts predict Putin plans to muster up to 175,000 troops.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul spoke to the Voice of america and said that “Biden is right to accept Putin’s request for a phone call. If Putin made the request, he must have a message to convey. But Biden must also convey his messages,” he said.

First, Biden must make it clear that serious negotiations on European security they must include a much broader agenda than Putin’s proposed, including Russian security threats such as the annexation of Crimea, the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the Russian forces occupying Ukraine and Georgia. and Moldova.

Second, Biden must make it clear to Putin that any discussion about Ukraine’s security and sovereignty must have Ukrainians at the table. Maybe Europe needs a Helsinki 2.0. but Europe does not need a Yalta 2.0, “McFaul pointed out.

The United States has repeatedly reiterated its support for Ukraine and has provided tens of millions of dollars in security assistance. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In a statement, Blinken said that he “reiterated the unwavering support of the United States for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russian military development on the borders of Ukraine.”

The White House has repeatedly said that there will be “significant consequences” if Russia invades it. These include tough economic sanctions and increased security support for Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Zelenskiy tweeted: “They assured me of the full support (of the United States for Ukraine) to counter Russian aggression,” and used flag emojis to indicate allied countries.

Blinken also spoke with the foreign ministers of Great Britain, France and Germany about “coordinating to deter any Russian aggression against Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Western foreign ministers “affirmed the consensus among allies and partners to impose massive consequences and severe costs on Russia for such actions,” Price said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the call scheduled for Thursday, adding that it would take place late at night, Russian time. On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called the heads of state of neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

A spokesman for the National Security Council told the VOA that the United States relies on its alliances in the region to reach a diplomatic solution.

“We are united as an alliance on the consequences that Russia would face if it moves on Ukraine,” said the spokesman, who asked to speak about the background when discussing current US policy.

“But we are also united in our willingness to engage in principled diplomacy with Russia … We will adhere to the principle of ‘nothing about our allies and partners without our allies and partners’, including Ukraine.”

Administration officials have refused to respond publicly to Moscow’s demands, which include that NATO deny Ukraine membership and that the security alliance reduce its deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

On Wednesday, the senior administration official said: “Our view is that we can make the most progress, indeed at the negotiating table sitting across from each other behind closed doors and in close consultation with our allies and partners,” he said.

Meanwhile, some analysts say they doubt Putin’s moves will culminate in an invasion. Kyiv National University professor Taras Kuzio is one of several analysts who believes that a real invasion would be costly, lengthy and bloody and therefore unlikely.

“If Putin tries to crush Ukraine with overwhelming military force, he could end up losing the country forever, while also sparking anti-government unrest within Russia with the potential to threaten the survival of his entire regime,” he wrote. “For a man who has already experienced the collapse of an empire, this could be a risk that he is not prepared to take,” he said.

[Informe de Myroslava Gongadze de VOA]

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