Joe Biden says he is preparing “initiatives” to defend Ukraine against Russia

Joe Biden affirmed, Friday, December 3, to prepare « initiatives » to defend Ukraine in the event of an invasion, before an exchange with his counterpart Vladimir Putin planned in the coming days.

Saying to be in « contact constant » along with US allies and the Ukrainians, the US president said from the White House: “I am preparing what I believe will be the most comprehensive and relevant set of initiatives, to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to do what people fear he will do.” do. “

Joe Biden, who was responding to a question posed after a speech on the economy, did not give further details. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was hardly more talkative, saying: “There is a series of tools at our disposal. Of course, economic sanctions are an option. “ She did not answer a question about possible American military actions.

A Biden-Poutin interview at an uncertain date

The American president and his Russian counterpart are soon to discuss directly the tensions around Ukraine, seven years after the Russian annexation of Crimea and the takeover of part of the east of the former Soviet republic by pro-Russian separatist forces. But the exact date and modalities of this conversation are not known.

The two men had seen each other in person in Geneva last June. But Joe Biden has since largely focused his diplomatic efforts on the rivalry of the United States with China: he had a total of three long discussions with President Xi Jinping, including a videoconference lasting several hours on November 15.

There is no doubt that by massing tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukrainian border, as Washington and Kiev reproach him, Vladimir Putin has regained the attention of his American counterpart.

To ease tensions, Moscow is calling for “Security guarantees” and in particular the assurance that NATO will not continue to expand eastward, in particular with the accession of Ukraine.

Kiev, for its part, categorically refuses to abandon such a membership project, formally on the table since 2008. Joining NATO would mean that the other countries of the alliance, the United States in the lead, would be required to intervene militarily to defend Ukraine in the event of aggression.

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The question of Ukraine’s NATO membership

The diplomatic exercise is delicate for Joe Biden. The democrat certainly wants to be the spokesperson for democracies in the face of authoritarian regimes in the world: he is even organizing next week a “Summit of democracies” virtual two-day event, an initiative touted by China and Russia. He also wants to repair the traditional alliances of the United States, undermined by his predecessor Donald Trump.

But on the other hand, the President of the United States, who put an end to twenty years of military intervention in Afghanistan, no longer wants to engage American troops in major open conflicts. And if he is not stingy with strong declarations against Russia, and in particular against Vladimir Putin, whom he had publicly described as “Killer”Joe Biden can also be pragmatic. He thus gave his approval to a gas pipeline project dear to Moscow, but which infuriates Ukraine.

Joe Biden also does not hide his impatience with the problems of corruption and governance in Ukraine. Receiving Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House in early September, he had promised him to “Support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression”, but had made little progress on the hot topic of NATO membership.

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The World with AFP