Update (Dec. 8, 2021): A day after the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin said Wednesday that Moscow will submit its proposals for a security dialogue with the United States in the next week. He added that he and Biden have agreed to “form a structure that would deal with it in a detailed and thorough way.”
Putin described the meeting with Biden as “very open, specific and, I would say constructive.” However, he also reaffirmed his denial of planning to attack Ukraine, while saying Russia can’t remain indifferent to NATO’s possible expansion to include Ukraine.
Original Story (Dec. 7, 2021): President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting that lasted over two hours Tuesday. Among other issues, the highlight of the presidents’ talks included escalating tensions in Ukraine.
“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting. “President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.”
Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been gathering at its border with Ukraine. U.S. intelligence officials fear an invasion could happen sometime in early 2022.
During the meeting, Biden told Putin he would prefer a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine tensions. The U.S could put economic sanctions on Russia if it continues military escalations, including limiting gas imports into the country.
As for Putin, one of his main demands on the call was that NATO forbid Ukraine from ever joining. Ukraine has long sought membership. The U.S. and its NATO allies have said in the past that Russia’s request is a non-starter.
Just hours before the start of the meeting between Biden and Putin, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of sending tanks and snipers to eastern Ukraine. The officials say Russia is trying to “provoke return fire” in order to lay a pretext for a potential invasion.
An administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that U.S. intelligence officials have not been able to independently verify the accusation. However, the official said that the White House has directly raised concerns with the Russians about trying to provoke the Ukrainians.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the allegations.
According to the White House, “the presidents also discussed the U.S.-Russia dialogue on Strategic Stability, a separate dialogue on ransomware, as well as joint work on regional issues such as Iran.”