Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden are scheduled to meet by videoconference on Tuesday, the Russian government announced on Saturday (December 4th). The announcement of this interview, which Moscow and Washington have been preparing for several days, comes in a context of strong tensions between Russia and Western countries, which accuse it of preparing an imminent invasion of Ukraine.
” We confirm “ that this interview will take place on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday, quoted by the Interfax news agency. The exchange will take place ” In the evening “ in Russia and its duration will be “Determined by the presidents themselves”, he told the Ria Novosti agency.
Ukraine and its allies accuse Russia in particular of having massed troops and tanks on its border in anticipation of an attack. Moscow has repeatedly denied any belligerent inclination and accused Western countries of increasing « provocations », in particular by carrying out military exercises in the Black Sea, an area that Russia considers to be its backyard.
“Initiatives” announced by Joe Biden
Joe Biden said on Friday to prepare « initiatives » to defend Ukraine in the event of an invasion. Saying to be in « contact constant » along with US allies and the Ukrainians, the US president said from the White House: “I am preparing what I believe will be the most comprehensive and relevant set of initiatives, to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to do what people fear he will do.” do. “
Joe Biden, who was responding to a question posed after a speech on the economy, did not give further details. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was hardly more talkative, saying: “There is a series of tools at our disposal. Of course, economic sanctions are an option. “ She did not answer a question about possible American military actions.
The two men had seen each other in person in Geneva in June, and Tuesday’s interview would be the first direct exchange in several months on the tensions around Ukraine, seven years after the Russian annexation of Crimea and the takeover of part of the eastern part of the former Soviet republic by pro-Russian separatist forces. Since then, Joe Biden has largely focused his diplomatic efforts on the United States’ rivalry with China: he had a total of three long discussions with President Xi Jinping, including a videoconference lasting several hours on November 15.
There is no doubt that by massing tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukrainian border, as Washington and Kiev reproach him, Vladimir Putin has regained the attention of his American counterpart. To ease tensions, Moscow is calling for “Security guarantees” and in particular the assurance that NATO will not continue to expand eastwards, in particular with the accession of Ukraine.
Kiev, for its part, categorically refuses to abandon such a membership plan, formally on the table since 2008. Joining NATO would mean that the other countries of the alliance, the United States in the lead, would be required to do so. intervene militarily to defend Ukraine in the event of aggression.
Joe Biden’s pragmatism
The diplomatic exercise is delicate for Joe Biden. The democrat certainly wants to be the spokesperson for democracies in the face of authoritarian regimes, and he is even organizing, next week, a “Summit of democracies” virtual two-day event, an initiative touted by China and Russia. He also wants to repair the traditional alliances of the United States, undermined by his predecessor Donald Trump.
On the other hand, the President of the United States, who put an end to twenty years of military intervention in Afghanistan, no longer wants to engage American troops in major open conflicts. And if he is not stingy with strong declarations against Russia, and in particular against Vladimir Putin, whom he had publicly qualified as “Killer”Joe Biden can also be pragmatic. He thus gave his approval to a gas pipeline project dear to Moscow, but which infuriates Ukraine.
Joe Biden does not hide his impatience with the problems of corruption and governance in Ukraine either. Receiving Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House at the beginning of September, he had promised to “Support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression”, but had made little headway on the hot topic of NATO membership.
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After announcing “initiatives” to defend Ukraine against Russia, Joe Biden is due to meet with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday