REHOBOTH BEACH, Dell ( Associated Press) — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak on Thursday as the Russian leader advances his demands for security guarantees in Eastern Europe.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn said in a statement announcing the call that the two leaders “will discuss a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements.”
The talks come as the US and Western allies see a build-up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine rising to an estimated 100,000 and fueling fears that Moscow is preparing to invade Ukraine.
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.”
Price said the two discussed efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the upcoming diplomatic ties with Russia.
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.
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 hold talks with Russia next month to discuss its concerns.
The US and Russia are to hold high-level talks on January 10. Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which also includes the United States, are expected to meet in the same week with representatives from Moscow and NATO.
In Thursday’s call, which was requested by the Russians, 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, According to a senior administration official, who briefed reporters. on the next call. The official spoke on condition of anonymity. The two leaders had a video call earlier this month.
The official said the White House sees leader-to-leader engagement as important as the administration looks to find a way beyond this “crisis moment” over growing concerns of another Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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 former President Barack Obama on the international stage – looms large as Biden encapsulates the current smoldering crisis.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has clarified in public remarks that the administration is ready to discuss Moscow’s concerns about NATO in talks with Russian officials, but stressed that Washington will continue to shape policy. I am committed to the principle of “Nothing About You Without You”. which affects the European allies.
“We are approaching the broader question of diplomacy with Russia from the point of view that … meaningful progress on the negotiating table must, of course, be in the context of de-escalation rather than escalation,” Sullivan said. said. At an event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this month. “If we continue to see an escalatory cycle, it is very difficult to see agreements being fulfilled,” he said.
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.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed Putin would speak with Biden on Thursday, but gave no details.