The talks between the Presidents of the United States and Russia lasted more than two hours.
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border during a videoconference on Tuesday. During the videoconference, Biden warned Putin that Russia and its financial system would be subject to the toughest economic sanctions in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.
The talks, according to a White House spokesman, lasted more than two hours.
A statement released by the White House after the two leaders’ conversation said that “President Biden expressed the deep concern of the United States and our European allies about the increase in the number of Russian military personnel around Ukraine and made it clear that the United States and our allies would respond decisively with economic and other measures in the event of a military escalation.”
During the conversation with Putin, the White House said, Biden stressed that the United States continues to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, calling on his interlocutor to de-escalate the situation and return to diplomacy.
“Both presidents have instructed their teams to take action, and the United States will do this in close cooperation with allies and partners. The presidents also discussed the U.S.-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, a separate issue regarding cybersecurity, as well as joint work on regional issues, including Iran,” the statement said.
State TV channels showed a short video taken at the beginning of the conversation when the leaders of the two countries greeted each other in a friendly manner.
“I welcome you, Mr. President,” Putin said.
“Nice to see you again,” Biden replied, smiling back. The U.S. President noted Putin’s absence at the recent G20 summit in Rome. Putin decided to take part in the summit via video link due to concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Russia.
“Unfortunately, last time we couldn’t see each other at the G-20,” Biden said, “I hope that next time we will meet in person.”
The conversation between the leaders – Biden was in the operational meeting room of the White House during the conversation, Putin – at his residence in Sochi – became one of the most difficult during Biden’s presidency. Representatives of the U.S. intelligence services found out that Russia has concentrated 70,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion of the neighboring country early next year.
During a telephone conversation with reporters on Monday, a senior administration official did not go into details of what exactly President Biden is going to say to Putin about the possible participation of the US military in the alleged military conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.
The source said that the United States will provide “guarantees” of assistance to allies in the event of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
According to the same source, immediately after the conversation with Putin, Biden will contact Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to tell him about the details of the conversation with the Russian leader.
On the eve of Biden’s conversation with Putin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Monday.
Zelensky tweeted that he and Blinken “agreed to continue joint and coordinated actions,” and expressed gratitude to the United States and its allies for “unwavering support for our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
According to Reuters sources, possible sanctions may be directed against the largest Russian banks and Moscow’s ability to convert rubles into dollars and other currencies.
According to a senior White House official, Biden’s team has identified a number of economic sanctions that need to be imposed in the event of a Russian invasion.
Another source familiar with the situation said that sanctions against Putin’s inner circle were also discussed, but no corresponding decision was made.
According to the agency, the United States and European allies are considering measures against the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The United States may also limit the ability of investors to buy Russian debt on the secondary market, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it remains unclear whether Putin has made a final decision to invade Ukraine.
“He (Biden) he will make it clear that if Russia decides to act, there will be very real consequences, but he will also make it clear that there is an effective way forward through diplomacy,” Psaki said.
Putin has previously stated that he wants legal guarantees that NATO will not expand to the east and that certain types of weapons will not be deployed in Russia’s neighboring countries, including Ukraine.
Putin is expected to raise the possibility of holding another summit with Biden. The last time the leaders of the United States and Russia met in person was at the June summit in Geneva.
Department of State spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that “it is obvious that if the two presidents are going to talk, they are still aimed at discussing issues, and do not mean to bring the matter to a standstill.”
“Putin has repeatedly stated that we strive for good, predictable relations with the United States. Russia has never planned to attack anyone. But we have our own concerns, our own red lines – the president has clearly said this,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
Peskov described Biden and Putin’s call as a “working conversation” at a time when “the escalation of tensions in Europe is off the scale, it is extraordinary.”