Biden to meet with Putin on Thursday at Russian leader’s request

The call was requested by Putin, according to an administration official, and Biden accepted because “he believes that as far as Russia is concerned, there is no substitute for direct chief-chief dialogue.”

Horne added that “the Biden administration continues to conduct extensive diplomacy with our European allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine. President Biden spoke to leaders from across Europe, and officials in the Biden administration have engaged multilaterally with (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the (European Union) and the (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). They also held extensive consultations with their counterparts, including those in the eastern flank countries bilaterally. And in (Bucharest Nine) format as well as in Ukraine. “

The Bucharest Nine is a reference to the nine European nations that form the eastern edge of NATO: Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.

Biden plans to give an overview of the upcoming bilateral talks between the United States and Russia to be held on Jan. 10, the official said, and will also discuss NATO-Russia and Organization for Security and Cooperation meetings. in Europe scheduled for January 12 and 13. Closing consultation with US allies and partners has been “a priority for the administration from the start,” the official said, and Biden will point this out to Putin as well.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday that while the United States and its allies have engaged in meaningful diplomacy with Russia, “we are also ready to respond” with tough and coordinated sanctions if Russia moves forward. with a new invasion of Ukraine.

The United States also “plans to strengthen the position of NATO forces” in Eastern Europe if Russia attacks Ukraine, the official said, and is ready to provide Ukraine with “assistance. additional ”to help the country defend itself if necessary.

The official noted that the United States had yet to see any effort from Russia to reduce the tensions.

“We continue to see a significant presence of Russian troops on and around the Ukrainian border, and we have continued to convey to the Russian side that for there to be real progress in these talks, a context of de-escalation will be necessary. “

The United States has also developed, “in some detail”, a list of concerns that it intends to share with Russia “at the appropriate time,” the official said. “We are in a time of crisis and have been for a few weeks now, and it will take a high level of commitment to resolve this issue and try to find a de-escalation path.”

Biden and Putin are not expected to participate in talks on Jan. 10 in Geneva, the official said. The talks will include representatives from the Pentagon and the NSC and will be led by the State Department.

A Kremlin spokesman told reporters that the appeal scheduled for Thursday was requested by the Russian side because of the “extremely complicated” issues the two countries were to discuss.

“The issues on the agenda are extremely complicated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Since the last conversation (between Putin and Biden), the Russian side has formulated its position, as promised by President Putin, it has been set out in two draft documents which have been brought to the attention of Washington and some capitals European. ”

“Therefore, in view of President Putin, it is necessary to have another conversation before the aforementioned (January) talks,” Peskov added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday about the lingering tensions and announced Biden’s next call with Putin, according to the State Department.

The Biden-Putin call, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, will be the second direct contact between the two leaders this month as the United States continues to pressure Russia to withdraw its strong military presence near from the borders of Ukraine. More than 100,000 Russian troops are still stationed there, and US intelligence officials have warned Ukraine and its allies that Russia may consider launching an attack as early as January.
Biden warned Putin in a virtual meeting earlier this month that an invasion would have serious consequences, such as severe economic sanctions and US military reinforcements on NATO’s eastern flank.
Putin, in turn, warned the United States and NATO that Russia will be forced to act if its “red lines” are crossed, especially if NATO expands its military capabilities further east and Ukraine. Putin demanded legally binding security guarantees from the United States and NATO, which some American officials have already called non-starters, but without specifying what exactly is irrelevant.

But US and Russian officials have agreed to sit down for security talks on January 10, where “Russia can put its concerns on the table, and we will also put our concerns on the table with Russia’s activities.” an NSC spokesperson said on Tuesday. . The State Department will lead the delegation, the administration official said on Wednesday.

The status of the talks does not depend on the initial withdrawal of its forces by Russia, a White House official said on Tuesday, because the Biden administration still believes diplomacy is the most responsible route “even if we don’t get it. not all we want “.

U.S. officials plan to consult regularly with Ukraine in parallel as negotiations with Russia take place next month, the White House official told CNN.

Anna Chernova of CNN in Moscow contributed reporting.