US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation on Thursday in which the differences between the two parties became clear amid escalating tensions in Ukraine, on whose border the Russian Army has been concentrating forces recently.
How a half-promise from NATO fueled the Ukraine crisis
“President Biden urged Russia to reduce tensions in Ukraine. He made it clear that the US and its allies will respond decisively if Russia invades more Ukraine,” said the statement signed by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Biden in turn supported diplomatic efforts, “beginning early next year with the Bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue, in NATO through the NATO-Russia Council, and in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.” explained the spokeswoman.
“President Biden reiterated that substantial progress in these dialogues can only occur in an environment of de-escalation and not of escalation,” he added about the call, which lasted fifty minutes.
The American leader remained at his home in Wilmington (Delaware), where he moved to celebrate the New Year. Shortly after, in a call with journalists to explain the conversation, a senior US official said it was “serious and substantial” by stressing that it was not an exchange “of compliments.”
He also noted that both Biden and Putin recognized that “there are areas where significant progress can be made” and that there are also other areas where agreements “may be impossible.”
Harsh response from Moscow
The Kremlin’s version of the call showed stark differences in approach. According to information from Moscow, Putin warned Biden that a new round of sanctions against Russia due to tensions with Ukraine could lead to the “complete” breakdown of relations.
“All this could lead to the complete breakdown of relations between our countries. It would seriously damage relations between Russia and the West,” Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin adviser, assured the press.
This is how Putin reacted “with immediacy” when Biden reminded him, according to the Kremlin, that if the escalation on the border with Ukraine continues, Western countries “will adopt large-scale economic, financial and military sanctions.” “Mistakes like that have been made not a few in the last 30 years. Therefore, it would be desirable not to make such mistakes given the situation, “he said, adding that future generations of Russians and Americans would pay.
In addition, Putin, who already held a telematics summit with Biden on December 7, insisted on several occasions that Moscow will behave as Washington would behave if someone deployed “offensive weapons near US borders.”
The Kremlin chief was referring to the red line for Ukraine’s entry into NATO, which, according to Putin, would be accompanied by the location 500 kilometers from Moscow of offensive weapons that would threaten the security of his country.
However, Ushakov stressed that the Russian side is satisfied with the telephone conversation, as it was “constructive” and “concrete”, and for 50 minutes the issue of security guarantees that Moscow has requested in writing was almost exclusively dealt with. to the US and NATO to ease the current tension.
Next dates to negotiate
Putin and Biden agreed that negotiations on security guarantees will take place bilaterally in Geneva on January 10; in Brussels in the framework of the meeting between Russia and NATO, on January 12; and in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Osce), on the 13th.
In recent weeks there has been an escalation of tensions in the face of a possible Russian attack against Ukraine, which according to Ukrainian and American sources could take place in early 2022.
Russia has denied that it is preparing for an offensive and has said that the West pays excessive attention to the movement of troops within Russian borders.