December 8, 2022

ukraine: US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin Ukraine summit hangs in balance – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Prospects of a French-brokered summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at averting a war in Ukraine hung in balance on Monday after the two sides sought guarantees neither was willing to fully commit to.
Although both sides agreed in principle to a presidential-level meeting, the US said it could take place only if Russia committed to not invading Ukraine, a demand that disregarded Moscow’s assertion that it has no such plans.
US officials continued to insist Moscow has put in place troops and military hardware to embark on an invasion within hours, even as they ramped up their high-pitched campaign to allege that the Russian attack would be “extremely violent” and the US has “intelligence to suggest that there will be an even greater form of brutality” against Ukrainians, “to repress them, to crush them, to harm them.”
The Kremlin too played down prospects of a summit after the initial French announcement, saying it was “premature to talk about specific plans for a summit” and no concrete plans were in place. Moscow is demanding that the US and Nato commit to discussing a legally-binding Nato non-expansion agreement among topics to address Russia’s security concerns.
The US and Nato say that demand is a non-starter and Nato will continue to have an open-door policy that gives countries freedom to shape their foreign policy and choose their alliances. Finessing language to assure Russia that Ukraine’s entry into Nato is not imminent, and there could be some kind of moratorium on it, has not satisfied Moscow, which wants permanent, iron-clad guarantees.
Putin said in a meeting of his national security council that was streamed live on Monday that the US and Nato’s idea of freedom on choice should not infringe on Russia’s security. He has also suggested in the past that the western alliance is maneuvering Ukraine into Nato ignoring the country’s historical links to Russia.
Further queering the pitch for a summit, Putin told the meeting he would consider an appeal by the two leaders of Moscow-backed separatist republics in Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk — to be recognized as independent states. Such a move will further cut into Ukraine and gobble up its Russian-speaking areas, as it happened with Crimea.
Proposal for a summit meeting between Biden and Putin came from French President Emmanuel Macron, and it briefly ignited hopes for a cooling of tensions before tepid, conditions-laden responses from the White House and Kremlin. But both sides kept the door open by referring to upcoming talks on Thursday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, which Washington says will take place — unless Russia invades Ukraine before that.
US officials kept up a shrill campaign on Monday about an imminent Russian invasion with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warning that an attack could begin within hours or days. “Every indication we see on the ground right now in terms of the disposition of Russian forces is they are getting prepared for a major attack on Ukraine,” he said, adding that just in the last 24 hours, there were further moves of Russian units to the border “with no other good explanation other than they’re getting into position to attack.”
“We believe that any military operation of the size, scope and magnitude of what we believe the Russians are planning will be extremely violent. It will cost the lives of Ukrainians and Russians, civilians and military personnel alike,” he told NBC News’ Today show on Monday morning.

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