Biden talks to Putin on Tuesday about Russian troop transfers – politics

Joe Biden has already explained that he is preparing for a long discussion with Vladimir Putin. The US President wants to talk to the Kremlin chief on video this Tuesday evening about Ukraine, the situation is serious. Washington has been warning of a possible Russian attack on the neighboring country for weeks. The Russian Defense Ministry is relocating additional troops, soldiers and tanks to several locations near the Ukrainian borders, and new information on this from Washington or Kiev is made public almost daily. Should Putin decide to invade in the coming weeks, it could be loud Washington Post up to 175,000 soldiers are involved. According to other sources, half of these troops are already near the border.

While the West is warning, the Kremlin is pursuing a triple strategy of denial, deterrence – and counter-accusation. The Kremlin has been warning for months that it is Kiev and NATO that are worsening the situation in eastern Ukraine. Putin himself repeatedly lamented NATO military exercises over and on the Black Sea. Most recently, Russia’s civil aviation authority reported that two passenger planes had to avoid a NATO reconnaissance aircraft. A “disaster over the Black Sea” had been avoided, wrote the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Sakharova, on Facebook on Sunday. But that does not mean “that the USA and NATO can risk human lives with impunity in the future”.

At the same time, the Kremlin accuses the West of “hysteria” regarding the Russian troop movements. And yet in November Putin was publicly happy about the “tension” that was now becoming noticeable – for him a sign that his warnings about Russia’s “red lines” are being heard. The president wants to build up pressure, and he has already stated with what aim: Putin is demanding “precise legal guarantees” that NATO will not expand further east. He would like to have this promise in writing that the West will not “adhere to oral agreements,” Putin told diplomats last Thursday. Obviously, it is no longer just a matter of preventing the Ukraine or Georgia from joining NATO, but also any cooperation with the defense alliance.

Moscow wants to work out a “legal agreement”, said Putin’s foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov, “which would rule out any further NATO advance to the east and the stationing of threatening weapon systems on the territory of neighboring states.” With the deployment of troops, the Kremlin has so far achieved rather the opposite; Washington is considering new arms deliveries to Kiev.

Putin prefers to talk to Biden about the Ukraine conflict rather than to the Europeans

Putin himself no longer seems to be banking on a diplomatic solution in eastern Ukraine. For more than seven years a conflict has been smoldering there in which Moscow covertly armed and supported pro-Russian separatists. It pushed through a peace agreement that was supposed to give the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk a special status. If this Minsk Agreement were implemented in the spirit of Moscow, the Ukrainian constitution would have to be changed, and Russia’s influence in the country would be cemented. Kiev regards these conditions as practically unacceptable.

That is reason enough for the Kremlin to deny the Ukrainian government any ability to negotiate. “The Ukrainian leaders of the current generation are absolutely dependent,” wrote Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and now deputy head of Putin’s Security Council, recently. Ukraine is under “foreign administration” and there is no point in negotiating with “vassals”. But Moscow recently also canceled a meeting in the so-called Normandy format, in which Germany and France are trying to mediate. It was only at the weekend that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated his complaint that Ukraine would “of course do nothing” to fulfill the Minsk Agreement. “It must be forced, which is exactly what the Normandy format was created for,” Lavrov said, “but Berlin and Paris are currently neglecting their obligations.” Does Putin now want to force a solution on his terms?

From the Kremlin’s point of view, Washington has the greatest influence on Kiev; Putin prefers to talk to Biden about the conflict than to the Europeans. Biden said on Friday, “to make it very, very difficult for Mr Putin to move forward,” he will “put together what I believe to be the most comprehensive and significant bundle of initiatives”. The two presidents last met in person in Geneva in the summer. At that time, too, the Kremlin had previously gathered troops near the border with Ukraine – and explained this with exercise purposes. Shortly after Biden suggested a face-to-face meeting, the Russian Defense Ministry withdrew most of them.

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