Washington / Moscow – Can this phone call defuse the Ukraine conflict?
In light of the tensions surrounding Ukraine, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak on the phone on Thursday. A US government official said on Wednesday that Biden wanted to offer Putin a “diplomatic path forward”.
“But we are also ready to answer if Russia advances with another invasion of Ukraine.” The US government continues to be “deeply concerned” about the massive Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said the call would cover a “range of issues” including diplomatic talks with Russia planned for January.
At the same time, the US government is continuing its talks with “European allies and partners” about the Russian troop deployment. The aim is to define a “common approach in response” to the Russian approach.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov confirmed the planned phone call between Biden and Putin. It should therefore take place on Thursday evening, Russian time.
Because of the troop deployment, the West has been fearing for some time that Russia could attack the neighboring country. The government in Moscow denies any plans to attack, rejects criticism of the troop movements and, for its part, accuses Kiev and NATO of “provocations”.
Biden and Putin met in Geneva in June and last had a video call on December 7th. Representatives of the USA and Russia plan to meet in Geneva on January 10th to discuss the conflict in Ukraine.
Talks between Russia and NATO are planned two days later, and consultations between Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are to follow on January 13.
Russia has submitted drafts for two agreements with the USA and NATO, which are intended to prohibit the eastward expansion of the military alliance and the establishment of US military bases in states of the former Soviet sphere of influence. The far-reaching demands were rejected by several NATO members.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj on Wednesday. According to his ministry, he reaffirmed the USA’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” in the face of the Russian troop deployment.