Biden talks about sanctions, Putin warns of a break in Ukraine

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – President Joe Biden has warned Russia’s Vladimir Putiin that the US could impose new sanctions on Russia if it takes further military action against Ukraine, while Putin replied that such a move by the US would lead to a complete break in relations could be between nations.

The two leaders spoke openly for nearly an hour Thursday amid growing concerns over Russia’s troop surge near Ukraine, a crisis that has worsened as the Kremlin stepped up its insistence on border security guarantees and test-fired hypersonic missiles to resolve its To substantiate claims.

Further US sanctions “would be a colossal mistake with grave consequences,” said Putin’s foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov, who, after the telephone conversation between Biden and Putin, informed reporters in Moscow if offensive weapons were used near the American borders .

White House officials offered a far more subdued display after the call, suggesting leaders agreed that there are areas where the two sides can make significant progress, but also differences that may not be resolved .

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had “urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine” and “made it clear that the United States and its allies and partners will react decisively if Russia continues to invade Ukraine “.

Putin requested the call, the second between leaders this month, ahead of scheduled talks between senior US and Russian officials in Geneva on January 9-10. The Geneva talks will be followed by a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on January 12 and negotiations at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on January 13 in Vienna.

White House officials said Thursday’s call lasted 50 minutes and ended after midnight in Moscow.

Biden told Putin that the two powers now have “two paths” ahead of them: diplomacy or American deterrence through sanctions, according to a senior civil servant. Biden said the route taken will “depend on Russia’s actions in the period ahead,” according to the official who briefed reporters on the anonymity condition.

Russia has made it clear that it wants a written commitment that Ukraine will never join NATO and that the alliance’s military equipment will not be placed in former Soviet states, demands that the Biden government has rejected.

Biden told Putin that a diplomatic path remains open even though the Russians have deployed an estimated 100,000 soldiers to Ukraine and Kremlin officials have loudly increased their calls for new guarantees from the US and NATO.

White House officials said Biden has made it clear that the US is ready to impose significant economic pain through sanctions should Putin decide to take military action in Ukraine.

Putin reacted violently.

He “indicated that it was a mistake that our ancestors would consider a grave mistake. Many mistakes have been made in the last 30 years and we should avoid more mistakes like that in this situation, ”said Ushakov.

Russia’s demands are due to be discussed during talks in Geneva, but it remains unclear what, if anything, Biden would offer Putin in return for defusing the crisis.

Draft security documents Moscow demanded that NATO should refuse membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet states and reduce military operations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The US and its allies have refused to offer Russia the kind of guarantees for Ukraine Putin wants, referring to NATO’s principle that membership is open to any eligible country. However, they agreed to hold talks with Russia to address its concerns.

Moscow’s security proposal has raised the question of whether Putin is making unrealistic demands in anticipation of Western rejection that would give him an excuse to invade.

Steven Pifer, who served as US ambassador to Ukraine in the Clinton administration, said the Biden administration could open up some elements of the Russian draft document if Moscow had serious talks.

In the meantime, key NATO members have made it clear that they have no desire to expand the alliance anytime soon. The US and its allies may also be receptive to the formulation of the Russian draft document calling for the establishment of new advisory mechanisms such as the NATO-Russia Council and a NATO-Russia hotline.

“The proposed exclusion of all military activities by NATO in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or Central Asia, as proposed in the draft treaty, is excessive, but some measures to limit military exercises and activities on a mutual basis may be possible,” said Pifer, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote an analysis for the Washington Think Tank.

Biden and Putin, who met in Geneva in June to discuss a number of tensions in US-Russia relations, are not expected to attend the January talks.

Last week, Russia test-fired hypersonic zircon missiles, a move that Russian officials say should help make Russia’s pursuit of security guarantees “more convincing” before the new missile and its cruisers, frigates, enter service with the Russian Navy next year and armed submarines.

The US intelligence agency noted earlier this month that Russian plans for a possible military offensive, which could begin as early as early 2022, were underway, but that Putin had yet to decide whether to proceed.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, said Thursday that his country does not believe a major Russian invasion is imminent.

“Our experts say that the Russian Federation cannot physically carry out a major invasion of our territory,” said Danilov. “It takes a certain amount of time for the preparations.”

The U.S. military conducted surveillance flights in Ukrainian airspace this week, including a flight Thursday on an Air Force E-8C JSTARS aircraft, according to Chuck Pritchard, a US European Command spokesman. This aircraft is equipped to provide information about ground forces.

Russia denies any intention of launching an invasion, in turn accusing Ukraine of devising plans to try to regain control of territories violently held by Moscow-backed rebels. Ukraine rejected the request.

At the same time, Putin warned that Moscow would have to take “appropriate military-technical measures” if the West continued its “aggressive” course “on the threshold of our homeland”.

Last month, Putin voiced concerns that NATO could potentially use Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles that could reach Moscow in just five minutes, saying that zircon would give Russia comparable capability.

As Biden was preparing for talks with Putin, the government also tried to underscore its commitment to Ukraine and to make it clear that Washington adheres to the “principle that nothing will get to you” in shaping policy that affects its European allies “Is committed. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj on Wednesday.

Past military incursions by Putin play a major role.

In 2014, Russian troops invaded the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and seized the territory of Ukraine. The annexation of Crimea by Russia was one of the darker moments on the international scene for President Barack Obama.

US-Russian relations were badly damaged towards the end of President George W. Bush’s tenure after the Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia in 2008, after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered his troops into the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Biden, who spends the week in his home state of Delaware, spoke to Putin from his home near Wilmington. The White House distributed a photo of the president speaking to the Russian leader from a desk with family photos.


Vladimir Isachenkow reported from Moscow. Contributors to this report were Associate Press Writers Dasha Litvinova in Moscow, Robert Burns in Washington, and Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Ukraine.

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