Biden holds second round of talks with Putin to defuse Ukraine tension, discusses sanctionstext_fields
A call requested by Russian President Vladimir Putin has led to another round of talks with American President Joe Biden on the subject of Russian border aggression against Ukraine. Whille the subject of the talks remained "serious", there were some bright spots of renewed diplomacy, sources close to the US administration told Reuters.
The 50-minute call was dominated by discussions of military build-up along the Russian border with Ukraine where between 60,000-90,000 troops have been gathered on Ukraine's northern, eastern and southern borders. The US President reiterated that a wide range of sanctions would be applied on Russia if any military aggression occured.
Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said Putin "immediately responded" that any sanctions now or later "could lead to a complete breakdown in ties between our countries," the report by Reuters stated. He added: "Our president also mentioned that it would be a mistake that our descendants would see as a huge error."
White House Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had pointed out that no talks could take place in an environment of escalation.
"Both leaders acknowledged that there were likely to be areas where we could make the meaningful progress as well as areas where agreements may be impossible, and that the upcoming talks would determine more precisely the contours of each of those categories," a senior administrative official in the US government told Reuters.
Moscow has rejected US accusations of attempted invasion and has asked for guarantees that the US-led NATO alliance will not expand eastwards. It has also asked for security guarantees that America will not deploy weapons against it.
Meanwhile, Washington has not been convinced by a report over the weekend that Russia would be pulling back about 10,000 troops, with officials saying they've seen little evidence of a drawdown. The United States deployed its JSTARS military plane in Ukrainian airspace for the first time earlier this week, though different types of surveillance aircraft are common in the region.