President Joe Biden will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday with the aim of diplomatically resolving tensions over Ukraine, without resorting to military action by any party.
A senior administration official confirmed the call yesterday and said the phone call came at the request of senior Russian officials. The pair last spoke directly on December 7.
“Russia has put its concerns on the table and we are ready to discuss them,” the official said. “The United States and our allies and partners will put our concerns on the table and expect Russia to be ready to discuss them as well. “
Ukrainian leaders have estimated that up to 100,000 Russian fighters have been mobilized on the border between the two counties in what appears to be preparation for a Russian military advance in the coming weeks.
But Russian leaders have insisted that these measures are a response to NATO aggression in the region.
At a press conference last week, Putin said that Russia “will act on the basis of our basic security” and added that “we must keep an eye on what is happening in Ukraine and when they could attack ”.
Tensions in the region date back to 2014, when Russia forcibly annexed Crimea over objections from Ukraine and the international community.
U.S. intelligence officials have said they are not yet sure whether Putin is on another foray into Ukrainian territory in 2022. Biden has repeatedly threatened “grave consequences” if Russia invades again, but has also said it would mean economic sanctions, not a US military response.
U.S. and Russian officials are expected to hold security talks Jan. 10 over the situation, but senior officials said Biden welcomed the opportunity for direct communication between him and Putin ahead of the work.
“If the leader of another country, especially at a time of high tension like the one we are experiencing now, reaches out and says, ‘I want to discuss some issues,’ [Biden] will be ready to have this direct dialogue from leader to leader, ”said a senior administration official.
However, Biden should not make any announcements or decisions without first consulting his allies.
NATO countries discussed not only sanctions against Russia, but also providing more military equipment and training to Ukrainian forces to further deter any aggression.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on policies relating to military personnel and veterans. His work has earned him numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.