Biden appears to have acknowledged Russia’s security concerns, and has made a promise re Ukraine
Moscow is satisfied with the outcome of a conference call between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told the media. However, it has warned the US against increasing sanctions on Russia.
In a statement released after the phone talks between the Russian leader and his US counterpart, the Kremlin revealed that Biden had made a pledge to Putin not to supply arms to Ukraine.
“Biden made it clear that the US does not intend to deploy offensive strike weapons in Ukraine,” Ushakov said, speaking to the Russian press.
He explained that this had been one of the goals Moscow had hoped to achieve via the proposals for security guarantees it had made to the US and NATO.
During the 50-minute call, Putin once again outlined the main principles of Russia’s security requirements, which envisage a ban on NATO’s eastward expansion. The Russian leader reportedly stressed that any potential deal with the West should include legally binding guarantees as to Russia’s security, with Ushakov noting that Biden appeared to have taken that demand “quite seriously.”
The Biden administration nonetheless refused to confirm that the US leader had made any commitment thereto during his conversation with Putin. “We are not going to draw conclusions, and there were certainly no declarations as to intentions from this conversation. But, regardless, our focus is really on actions and on indicators – not on words, at this point,” a White House official said on Thursday, shortly after the call was wrapped up.
The Kremlin revealed that security talks would be held in three formats: at the Russia-US level in Geneva, at the Russia-NATO level in Brussels, and at the level of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna. The bilateral meetings will begin on January 9.
The presidents’ conference call took place amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. The US and its allies have repeatedly sounded the alarm about the potential of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing an alleged buildup of Russian troops within the country’s own borders. Moscow has dismissed the speculation as baseless, insisting it harbors no intention whatsoever of attacking its southern neighbor.
In his call with Putin, Biden apparently doubled down on the allegation, however, threatening to impose wide-ranging sanctions aimed at crippling Russia’s economy, its financial sector, and its military industry were there to be any “further escalation of the situation along the Ukrainian border,” Ushakov said.
If Washington followed through with this threat, it should be prepared for a total collapse of its already strained relationship with Moscow, the official noted.
“If the West, under any pretext, decides to impose these unprecedented sanctions, it could lead to a complete breakdown of relations between our countries, and would deal a very serious blow to Russia-West relations as a whole,” Ushakov said.
He went on to assert that a new round of US sanctions would be a “colossal mistake” that should be avoided at all costs, including for the sake of future generations.