U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed “basically” on a summit on Ukraine, as long as that country remains on what US officials believe is imminent Ukraine’s invasion, has confirmed the White House.
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “We are always ready to negotiate. We are also ready to put on quick and difficult results if Russia instead chooses war. And right now, Russia seems to be continuing preparations for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine soon. ”
The announcement was first made by the office of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has helped resolve possible negotiations between the two leaders. Elysee Palace said Macron had suspended both leaders at a conference on “security and strategic stability in Europe.”
“Presidents Biden and Putin have both embraced this kind of policy,” the statement said, adding that such a summit would not be successful if Russia attacked Ukraine as Western nations feared it planned to do so.
The announcement – issued after a series of phone calls between Macron and leaders on both sides of the Atlantic – comes a week after tensions erupted over Russian troops descending from the Ukrainian border.
Emotions were further disrupted after the Belarusian Defense Ministry announced that Russia would extend military exercises in Belarus that were due to end on Sunday. Satellite images appeared to show new deployment of Russian weapons and troops near Ukraine.
The White House said Biden canceled a trip to Delaware and stayed in Washington following a two-hour meeting of his National Security Council.
In Kyiv, life outside continued as usual for many on a cold winter Sunday, with brushes and church services, before what US President Joe Biden said late last week was a pre-determined Russian offensive.
US-based satellite imagery Maxar has reported a new deployment of Russian troops to forests, farms and industrial areas within 15 kilometers (9 miles) of the Ukrainian border – Maxar’s claim represents a change in what has been seen in recent weeks.
“Until recently, most of the deployments seemed to be located in military bases or near training facilities,” the company said.
Blinken told CNN “everything we see suggests that this is very dangerous,” adding that the West was preparing in the same way when Moscow attacked.
“Until the tanks roll over, and the planes fly, we will seize every opportunity and every moment we have to see if diplomacy can still prevent President Putin from moving forward.”