President Joe Biden proposed meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin “in a third country” in the coming months to discuss the problems facing the United States and Russia amid mounting tensions in Ukraine, the White House said.
On the official White House phone call ad, Biden reiterated his goal of “building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia that will serve US interests” when he proposed the meeting.
In its own reading of the appeal, the Kremlin confirmed that Biden had requested a high-level meeting “in the foreseeable future”, without specifying when or where the two leaders might meet. There was also no indication of how the Russian leader had reacted to this suggestion.
The two presidents spoke on the phone for the first time in January amid tensions over the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Since then, Washington and Moscow’s already rocky relationship has worsened after Biden confirmed in a television interview last month that he labeled Putin a “killer”. Russia reminded its ambassador to the US on Biden’s remarks, while Putin said Biden’s push reflected America’s troubled past.
Tuesday’s call came when Ukraine, an Eastern European ally of the US, raised the alarm about possible Russian military aggression.
Kiev has accused Russia of a major military boom in the Crimea and on its borders, the largest since the outbreak of a pro-Russian uprising in the eastern Donbass region in 2014.
America’s Western allies and NATO have condemned Russia’s actions, but the Kremlin insists that it move its forces at its discretion, including for defense purposes.
During Tuesday’s appeal, Biden stressed Washington’s “unwavering commitment” to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The White House expressed concern about the “sudden build-up of the Russian military” and urged it to ease tensions.
On the previous Tuesday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and also reaffirmed US support for Ukraine.
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Russian state news agency Tass quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying that NATO plans to deploy 40,000 soldiers and 15,000 pieces of military equipment near Russian territory.
Russia also called the US an “adversary” on Tuesday and urged US warships to stay away from Crimea, which is strategically located on the Black Sea and is increasingly being monitored by NATO allies.
In its own reading of the telephone conversation between the two leaders, the Kremlin stressed that Putin had highlighted a political solution to the situation in Ukraine in line with the Minsk Accords, which aim to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, in what it calls “Ukrainian internal crisis “designated. ”
Moscow denies being part of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin said Biden and Putin were also discussing arms control, Iran’s nuclear program, Afghanistan and climate change.
Sally Bronston contributed.