U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held two-hour talks on Ukraine and other conflicts on Tuesday, state-run Russian media reported, amid Western fears that Moscow is poised to attack its southern neighbor.
Russian television footage showed Biden and Putin greeting each other in a friendly manner at the beginning of what was expected to be a heated argument. Biden told Putin that he hoped their next meeting would be in person.
The Kremlin said it hoped the two leaders could hold their own summit to discuss what he described as a “sad state” of US-Russian relations, which has deepened since the end of the Cold War.
U.S. officials said ahead of the video conference that Biden would tell Putin that Russia and its banks could face severe economic sanctions if it invaded Ukraine.
They say sanctions, another source that could target Russian central banks and Moscow’s ability to convert rubles and other currencies, were designed to stop Putin from using tens of thousands of troops gathered near the Ukrainian border to attack his southern neighbor.
The Kremlin, which said before Tuesday’s meeting was not expecting anything, denied that it had any intention of invading Ukraine and said the military stand was defending itself.
But Moscow has expressed outrage at the Western military intervention in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has been heading west since the coup that overthrew the Russian president in 2014, in what he called the Nato rise.
Moscow also questioned Ukraine’s intentions and said it wanted assurances that Kiev would not use force to try to recapture the territory lost in 2014 from Russian-backed separatists, which Ukraine has destroyed.
“We are looking for a good, unpredictable relationship with the US. Russia has never intended to attack anyone, but we have our concerns and we have our red lines, ”said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The United States has shared intelligence with Russian military personnel at the border with its allies, with Biden’s chief of staff reassuring reporters while previewing the call.
The official did not elaborate but said “we have seen the flow of additional skills and strength in the Ukrainian territory in many different areas. And this movement is in line with the plans that we are seeing in the military escalation in Ukraine ”.
The United States and its partners have discussed the impending financial sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We have had in-depth discussions with our European counterparts on what to do in the event of a massive Russian military offensive in Ukraine. to continue ”.
Asked if the US would consider sending troops to defend Ukraine, the official declined to discuss the “critical challenges” Biden would face in Putin but said, “The US does not want to end up in a state of concentration. as opposed to a combination of Ukrainian military support, strong economic measures, and a significant increase in support and capability for our Nato allies to ensure they remain safe ”.