CORRESPONDENT IN NEW YORK
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will have a conversation again this Thursday about the situation in Ukraine, just three weeks after the faces were seen in a video conference on December 7. Then, Russia was tightening the rope with a reinforcement of its military presence on the border with Ukraine and amid reports from US intelligence that Moscow was preparing an offensive against the eastern European country early next year.
Today’s call, according to a senior White House official in a call with journalists, has been at the request of Putin himself. The official confirmation of the call was provided by Emily Horne, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, who assured that both leaders will discuss “various issues, including upcoming diplomatic contacts with Russia.”
The next scheduled meetings will be in the second week of January: meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as talks between Russia and the United States in Geneva within the framework of the Security Dialogue. Strategic
“Both leaders believe that there is genuine value in direct talks between them,” said the senior government official, but Putin’s specific intention to promote the call is uncertain. I could try look for an exit to find a de-escalation of the situation or reaffirm their demands on security to use them as a pretext to carry out the offensive against Ukraine or to bring new requests to the negotiating table.
US intelligence has warned about sending tens of thousands of Russian soldiers to the Ukrainian border, plans to accumulate a total of 175,000 men and mount a military offensive in the coming months.
“We remain very concerned about the nature of the Russian presence on the border and its capabilities,” said the senior official.
Moscow has denied it has plans to invade UkraineBut it demands written guarantees from the US that Ukraine will not join NATO – as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seeking – and that the military alliance will not reinforce other countries in the region with weapons.
Washington reject these commitments, especially if they do not go hand in hand with its European partners. This Wednesday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, maintained contacts with his counterparts from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as with Zelenski, to give them assurances that the White House will not negotiate on the future of Ukraine in their backs to their partners.
For there to be diplomatic advances, the White House insisted, there must be will de-escalation by Moscow.
“We are prepared for diplomacy and to open a new diplomatic path. But also we are prepared to respond if Russia is going for a new invasion, “warned the senior US government official. Biden already warned Putin at their meeting at the beginning of the month that any action in this regard will be responded to with tougher economic sanctions than those imposed after the 2014 invasion of Crimea, strengthening of the military position in Europe and more defense assistance to Ukraine.