The much-anticipated Biden-Putin talks between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin went on for approximately two hours by way of a video call on Tuesday amidst rising tensions over Russian troop buildup along the border with Ukraine.
The meeting began at 10:07 AM ET and ended at 12:08 PM ET.
A White House statement said: “President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation. President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.”
It added: “The two presidents tasked their teams to follow up, and the U.S. will do so in close coordination with allies and partners. The presidents also discussed the U.S.-Russia dialogue on Strategic Stability, a separate dialogue on ransomware, as well as joint work on regional issues such as Iran. ”
Observers have noted that not only are there now approximately 75,000 Russian troops massed along the border, but over the last few months, Russia has constructed supply lines, including medical units and fuel depots, that could allow Russia to stage a long-term conflict, according to CNN, which states the information comes from two sources familiar with the latest intelligence.
Biden-Putin talks come as tensions rise, Russian troops mass along Ukraine border
The most recent intelligence on the matter estimates that Russia may start a war with the Ukraine using as many as 175,000 troops that it may place along the border.
Biden was expected to tell Putin exactly what sanctions and other actions the US may take if Russia does invade — as it did five years ago in the Crimea. Experts say that US intelligence advisers believe that has not as of now decided to launch a military offensive.
Biden had reportedly planned to tell the longtime Russian leader that the US will take “substantive economic countermeasures” that are designed to inflict “significant and severe economic harm on the Russian economy” if he should decide to invade Ukraine, according to a senior administration official who spoke to reporters yesterday.
Biden will next speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom later on Tuesday afternoon.
He is expected to apprise them of the outcome of the call with Putin.
Just yesterday, the European leaders remarked on what they called “their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric,” according to a statement issued by the White House.
“The leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a coordinated and comprehensive approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders,” the statement added.
Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, is also expected to speak to reporters at 2 PM on Tuesday afternoon from the White House.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that observers have taken note of what he called “added military capability” of the Russian forces that are currently arrayed along the border.
“What we continue to see is added capability that President Putin continues to add, added military capability in the western part of his country and around Ukraine,” Kirby said.
New actions may be taken against Russia in the form of sanctions against those in his inner circle and on energy producers in the country. One so-called “nuclear” option would be taking Russia out of the international payment system called SWIFT which keeps money flowing across the world through the banking system.
The officials said that the Biden administration is still speaking to its European partners, many of whom are tied much more closely than is the US to Russia, in order to collaborate on any actions that might be taken.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday morning that President Biden “will be clear — as we have conveyed publicly — that we have been preparing a range of economic sanctions or economic options that could have a detrimental impact on the Russian economy.”
In a worst-case scenario, the US is also looking at the possibility of potentially having to evacuate US citizens from Ukraine if Russia did invade, according to a CNN report. Sources told the news outlet that the Pentagon misleading the planning for this operation.
Administration officials are also briefing Congress on how the US is preparing for a possible Russian invasion of its neighbor. In what she told reporters was a “gloomy” briefing to senators by State Department official Victoria Nuland, she outlined the tough sanctions package that tis currently being prepared by the administration, a person familiar with the briefing said.
The Russian leader has stated that he is concerned that the Ukraine might enter the NATO alliance and he was expected to declare to Biden that the country must not become a member of the powerful group.
However, experts believe that Biden was unlikely to agree to Putin’s demand during the conversation.
A senior administration official was quoted by CNN as saying that American officials have had “intensive discussions with our European partners about what we would do collectively in the event of a major Russian military escalation.”
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Tuesday that the European Union “continues to fully support Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression.
“We will respond to any further aggressions, by scaling-up and expanding existing sanctions,” she added. Von der Leyen also stated that the bloc was “ready to take additional restrictive measures, in coordination with our partners.
“The rise of extremism and autocracy can also be a security issue for countries. In this context, we must also speak about the Russian military movements and their massive build-up along Ukraine’s eastern border,” she continued.