The Ukraine conflict has recently seemed to be more and more threatening. Now US President Biden and Russian President Putin want to speak directly about the conflict.
In the event of further military intervention in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden wants to threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin with harsh sanctions. A senior White House representative said that Biden would campaign for a diplomatic solution in a phone call with Putin this Thursday, but also emphasize the willingness to take tough punitive measures.
We have coordinated with our allies to impose tough sanctions on the Russian economy and the financial system - much more than what was implemented in 2014
said the US government representative on Wednesday. At that time, Russia had annexed the Crimean peninsula and began to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In the event of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine, there are already plans to expand NATO's presence in the Eastern European member states and to strengthen their capabilities, the US representative warned. In addition, they are ready "to give Ukraine further support to defend its territory and to react to a possible Russian occupation," he said. "President Biden will make it clear that there is a diplomatic path to de-escalation in the region if President Putin is interested in taking that path," the US official said.
According to the Kremlin, the short-term phone call with Biden is planned for late Thursday evening. An exact time was initially not communicated either in Washington or in Moscow. The US representative said that the conversation went back to Russia's request. Both sides are very interested in direct talks in order to avoid an escalation in view of the increasing Russian military presence near the Ukrainian border, he said.
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Memories of the Crimean conflict
The US has been accusing Russia of deploying troops not far from the border with Ukraine for weeks. A Russian invasion of the ex-Soviet republic is feared in the West. Russia rejects this and again accuses Ukraine of having deployed additional soldiers in the region. The developments bring back memories of the Crimean conflict in 2014 and the annexation of the peninsula by Russia at the time.
Putin agreed to a diplomatic solution last week, but asked for security guarantees. This included an end to NATO's eastward expansion, and with it a waiver of NATO membership for Ukraine.
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US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken first spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj on Wednesday, and later also in a switch with Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her counterparts from France and Great Britain, as the ministry said. Washington said they had reaffirmed their "steadfast support" for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Biden and Putin spoke at the beginning of December as part of a two-hour video link. As heads of state, the two first met in person in Geneva in June.
Among other things, the phone call is intended to prepare a meeting planned for January 10 in Geneva, which will deal with the Ukraine conflict and probably also with NATO's security guarantees demanded by Moscow. Beyond the Geneva meeting, diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the escalating conflict in Ukraine are set to pick up speed in January.
NATO is planning talks with the Russian side for January 12th. In addition, there is to be a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on January 13th.
Direct military intervention by the US or NATO would be unlikely in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Washington and its European allies are more likely to react with drastic economic sanctions. Among other things, consideration should be given to excluding Russia from the international payments system of the Belgium-based organization Swift. Such a move would also damage Russia's energy industry as one of the country's most important industries.
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The White House said that the US government is in close contact with European allies and partners on the talks with Moscow. The US official said that the principle that nothing concerning them would be decided without them would continue to operate.
Previously, there had been criticism in Brussels and the demand for the European Union to participate in the planned talks in Geneva. "We do not want to and must not be an uninvolved bystanders whose heads are being decided," said EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell to the world.
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