Online meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a video call on December 7, 2021. The conversation took place against a backdrop of sharply escalating tensions around Ukraine. Western countries and Kiev believe that Moscow may be preparing an armed invasion into the country.

The conversation started around 6 pm according to Moscow time. It took place behind closed doors to the press. The negotiations reportedly lasted for 2 hours and 5 minutes.

About an hour after the negotiations were over, a brief announcement about them appeared on the White House website.

It is stated that Biden and Putin discussed a wide range of issues in US-Russian relations. Biden expressed deep concern of the USA and its European allies about Russia’s build-up of forces around Ukraine, and made it clear that the USA and its allies would respond with economic and other measures in case of military escalation. The US president stressed his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for a return to diplomatic negotiations. The presidents instructed their teams to discuss the issue further, the statement said. The US will do so in coordination with allies and partners. The sides also discussed strategic stability, negotiations on the recent cyber attacks and joint working on issues such as Iran.

A statement on the Russian president’s website confirmed that Ukraine was the main topic of the talks, but the Russian version referred to the “internal Ukrainian crisis” and the “lack of progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Putin reportedly accused the Ukrainian authorities of “destructive” behaviour and “provocations against Donbass”. The Kremlin transcript confirms the White House report that Joe Biden threatened Russia with new sanctions in case of “further escalation of the situation”. Vladimir Putin, in turn, expressed Russia’s interest in guarantees “precluding NATO’s eastward expansion and the deployment of offensive weapon systems in Russia’s neighbouring states”.

The outcome of the discussion on the situation around Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s website, was to instruct the presidents’ representatives “to engage in substantive consultations on these sensitive issues”.

A statement by the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, published after the talks, said it supported Joe Biden’s call for de-escalation in the region and a return to diplomatic measures of settlement. According to advisor of the head of the presidential administration Mikhail Podolyak, Biden’s conversation with Putin “has not brought any sensations”.



Photo: RFE/RL Graphics