Status: 12/30/2021 5:31 a.m.
US President Biden and Russia’s President Putin want to speak on the phone today about a solution to the Ukraine conflict. A US representative said in advance that the US is ready for diplomatic solutions but also for harsh penalties.
In the event of further military intervention in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden wants to threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin with harsh sanctions. A senior White House representative said that in a phone call with Putin scheduled for today, Biden will campaign for a diplomatic solution, but also emphasize his willingness to take harsh punitive measures.
“We have coordinated with our allies to impose tough sanctions on the Russian economy and the financial system – much more than what was implemented in 2014,” said the US government representative on Wednesday. At that time, Russia had annexed the Crimean peninsula and began to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.
USA warns Russia of invasion
In the event of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine, there are already plans to expand the NATO presence in the Eastern European member states and to strengthen their capabilities, warned the US representative. In addition, they are ready “to give Ukraine further support to defend its territory and to react to a possible Russian occupation,” he said. “President Biden will make it clear that there is a diplomatic path to de-escalation in the region if President Putin is interested in taking that path.”
According to the White House, the short-term phone call with Biden is planned for Thursday evening. The US representative said that the conversation went back to Russia’s request. Both sides are very interested in direct talks in order to avoid an escalation in view of the increasing Russian military presence near the Ukrainian border, he said.
Putin calls for the end of NATO’s eastward expansion
The US has been accusing Russia of a massive deployment of troops not far from the border with Ukraine for weeks. A Russian invasion of the ex-Soviet republic is feared in the West. Russia rejects this and again accuses Ukraine of having deployed additional soldiers in the region.
The developments awaken bad memories of the Crimean conflict in 2014 and the annexation of the peninsula by Russia at the time. Putin agreed to a diplomatic solution last week, but asked for security guarantees. This included an end to NATO’s eastward expansion, and thus also a renunciation of NATO membership for Ukraine.
“Steadfast Support” for Ukraine
US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken first spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj on Wednesday, and later also in a switch with Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her counterparts from France and Great Britain, as the ministry said. Washington said they had reaffirmed their “steadfast support” for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Among other things, the phone call should serve to prepare a meeting planned for January 10 in Geneva, which will deal with the Ukraine conflict and probably also with the security guarantees demanded by NATO from NATO.
NATO is planning talks with Russia
Beyond the Geneva meeting, diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the escalating conflict in Ukraine are expected to pick up speed in January. NATO plans to hold talks with the Russian side on January 12th. In addition, there is to be a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on January 13th.