Biden, Putin discuss Ukraine crisis over phone
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone conversation Saturday over the situation in Ukraine.
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW, Feb. 12 -- During the call, which lasted for about one hour, the two leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and related security issues, according to a White House statement and the Kremlin.
The White House said Biden made it clear to Putin "while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy," it is "equally prepared for other scenarios".
Direct engagements between the United States and Russia have yielded little substantial progress, with the Kremlin saying the White House failed to address its key security concerns and the Biden administration repeatedly warning Putin's government of severe economic sanctions if it were to invade Ukraine.
Joe Biden mentioned possible anti-Russian sanctions. At the same time, this issue was not at the center of the fairly long conversation with the Russian leader.
Russia has not received a substantive response from the U.S. on security guarantees, Sputnik reported, quoting Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.
Russia will soon submit its response to the U.S. and NATO on security guarantees, Ushakov said, adding the two leaders agreed to continue contacts.
Speaking to reporters during a media briefing, Ushakov revealed that the talks were staged on Washington’s request with the US citing fears of an allegedly imminent ‘invasion’ of Ukraine by Russia. The Putin-Biden talks were originally scheduled to take place on Monday, the official added.
Putin has criticized Western efforts to militarize and “pump” Ukraine full of modern weaponry, and such policies effectively encourage Kyiv to try and resolve the conflict in the country’s east by force.
“At the backdrop of the allegations regarding the ‘invasion’, conditions are being created for possible provocative actions by the Ukrainian armed forces,” he said.
Russia’s president spoke with Biden about “destructive” policies pursued by the Ukrainian authorities to “sabotage” the Minsk agreements, a major 2015 multinational deal that outlined a roadmap out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv forces face off the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia’s president stressed that the Western countries do not put enough “pressure” on Kyiv to fulfill the deal.
Still, the sanctions talk was not the centerpiece of the Putin-Biden conversation, and all in all, it was constructive and “businesslike,” Ushakov noted.
Over the past few months, top Western officials and media have repeatedly accused Moscow of seeking to attack Ukraine, with the allegedly looming ‘invasion’ repeatedly described as “imminent.” No solid evidence to back up such claims, however, has ever emerged.