Biden to push for ‘de-escalation rather than escalation’ during Thursday call with Putin

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Wilmington, Del. (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to discuss building up Russian forces near Ukraine during their second call in recent weeks, amid little progress toward ending the smoldering crisis .

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Ahead of Thursday’s call, the White House indicated that Biden would make it clear to Putin that a diplomatic route remains open, even if the Russians have moved an estimated 100,000 troops toward Ukraine and Putin has sought security guarantees in Eastern Europe. forward your demands.

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But Biden will reiterate to Putin that for there to be “real progress” in talks they must be conducted “in the context of de-escalation rather than escalation,” according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters ahead of the call. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that the call was set up on Putin’s initiative. It comes as senior US and Russian officials are to hold talks in Geneva on January 10.

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The two leaders held a video call earlier this month in which their talks focused on Russia’s military movements, which, along with Ukraine and other European allies, called on Moscow for security guarantees to prevent NATO from expanding into Ukraine. Demand was destabilized.

“The goal of the conversation is clear – to continue the discussion on the issues that were on the agenda during the recent talks via video conference,” Peskov told reporters. Issues related to the January talks will also be discussed.

Peskov noted that since the call, Moscow has submitted its security proposals to US and European officials and that now “from our point of view, the need for another telephone conversation has arisen, from the point of view of President Putin, which will be discussed in the upcoming talks.” Will introduce.”

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The official said Biden and Putin, who met in Geneva in June to discuss a range of tensions in US-Russia relations, were not expected to participate in the upcoming talks.

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In a December 7 video call, the White House said Biden gave notice to Moscow that an invasion of Ukraine would bring sanctions and cause huge damage to the Russian economy. Russian officials have dismissed threats of sanctions.

Representatives of Moscow and NATO are expected to meet soon after the upcoming Geneva talks, as is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Russia and Europe, including the United States.

Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents calling for NATO to deny membership of Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and withdraw its military deployments to Central and Eastern Europe.

The US and its allies have refused to give Russia the kind of guarantees Putin wants on Ukraine, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any eligible country. They agree. However, to negotiate with Russia to discuss its concerns.

As Biden prepared for talks with Putin, the administration sought to highlight its commitment to Ukraine and drive home that Washington is “nothing about you without you” in shaping policy affecting European allies. Committed to the principle of

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.”

Biden and administration officials also plan to consult with European allies after the president offered to read them about the engagement after talks with Putin.

Putin said earlier this week that he would consider several options if the West failed to meet its pressure for security guarantees to halt NATO expansion in Ukraine.
In Thursday’s call, Biden is expected to emphasize to Putin that the US is united with its allies, but will demonstrate a willingness to engage in “principled diplomacy” with Russia, the administration official said.

In 2014, Russian troops marched into Crimea’s Black Sea peninsula and seized territory from Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Crimea – one of the darkest moments for President Barack Obama on the international stage – looms large as Biden encapsulates the current crisis.

White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has made clear in public remarks that the administration is ready to discuss Moscow’s concerns about NATO in talks with Russian officials, but stressed that Washington is willing to support European allies. Behind the Back will not lag behind in shaping the policy that affects them.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss efforts to persuade Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal during Thursday’s call, which was effectively scrapped by the Trump administration.

Despite differences over Ukraine and other issues, White House officials have said the Iran nuclear issue is an issue where they believe the US and Russia can work together.

Biden, who is spending the week in his home state of Delaware, is expected to attend the call from his home near Wilmington.

Marketwatch contributed.

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