Biden urges Putin to ease Ukraine tensions, proposes summit
15 April, 2021, 06:35
As a new report from American intelligence said Russian Federation was not seeking direct conflict with the United States, the White House revealed Biden had spoken by phone with Putin to propose a summit between the two leaders at a neutral venue.
It wasn't clear when and where a potential summit would take place, but the White House statement said Biden "proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russian Federation".
In a sign of concern about tensions spinning out of control in the Ukraine crisis, Biden phoned Putin to propose they meet in a third country while underlining United States commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
More than 14,000 people have died in fighting in eastern Ukraine, and efforts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled.
Tensions remain high in the Donbass border region which has been dogged by conflict between Ukraine troops and separatists since 2014.
In Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Russian military has deployed two armies and three airborne formations to western regions "as a response to (NATO's) military activities threatening Russia".
In its readout of the call, the Kremlin said "both sides expressed their readiness to continue dialogue on the most important areas of ensuring global security".
The two also discussed arms control.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Brussels for talks with their European counterparts on the situation in Ukraine and other security issues.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg also called the Russian movements "unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning".
The statement said Biden is seeking to build a "stable and predictable relationship with Russian Federation consistent with USA interests".
Why it matters: The call comes amid a Russian build-up on Ukraine's borders, and after Putin reacted furiously to an interview in which Biden agreed that the Russian president was a "killer".
Putin similarly held a summit in Finland in 2018 with then United States president Donald Trump, who caused a furor at home by appearing to accept the Russian leader's denials of election meddling. The administration defended Biden's comment, saying he was being honest in response to a question but also adding that he continued to believe the USA and Russian Federation must work together. Mr Biden had also said Mr Putin would "pay a price" for alleged meddling in USA elections - leading to Russian Federation recalling its envoy to Washington.
Days after that call, Biden said in a speech before State Department officials that the days of the U.S.
Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed reporting.
"We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russian Federation and defend our vital interests and our people", Biden said.
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