VLadimir Poutine strikes back. Under fire from criticism as Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border, the Kremlin chief hit for blow during an interview with Joe Biden on Tuesday, December 7. In a statement released in the wake of this summit exchange, the Russian president let it be known that he criticized the expansion of NATO’s military potential within Ukraine. “NATO is making dangerous attempts to use Ukrainian territory and is developing its military potential at our borders”, write the services of Vladimir Putin, demanding from the White House “sure legal guarantees excluding an enlargement of NATO to l ‘East.
Responding to threats of American sanctions in the event of a Russian military operation against Ukraine, “Vladimir Poutine replied that responsibility should not be placed on Russia’s shoulders” given the behavior of the Atlantic Alliance. He also denounced “the destructive line of Kiev” which, according to him, seeks to “dismantle” the Minsk accords of 2015, a peace process supposed to end the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. Ukraine and which has been at a standstill for years.
“The leaders have agreed to ask their representatives to start substantive consultations on these sensitive issues,” said the Russian presidency. Vladimir Putin also proposed Tuesday to Joe Biden to lift all retaliatory measures targeting the diplomatic missions of their two countries taken in recent months in the midst of tensions between the United States and Russia. According to the Kremlin, relations between Moscow and Washington “are not in a satisfactory state”. “The Russian side has proposed to wipe out all the accumulated restrictions on the functioning of diplomatic missions, which could help normalize other aspects of Russian-American bilateral relations”, according to the Russian statement.
End of inadmissibility
Faced with the recriminations of Vladimir Putin, the American president however remained firm. Joe Biden did not make “promises or concessions” as to Ukraine’s accession to NATO, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan assured Tuesday. The US president believes that any country must be able to “freely choose” with whom to associate, said Jake Sullivan during a press briefing, after a two-hour conversation between the two heads of state.
The United States is ready to use the Nord Stream gas pipeline, through which Russia wants to supply Europe with natural gas, as a lever to deter Moscow from attacking Ukraine, Jake Sullivan also said. Noting that this pipeline was not yet in operation, he warned: “If Vladimir Putin wants the future Nord Stream II to carry gas, he may not take the risk of invading Ukraine”.
As for other issues on the agenda, according to the Kremlin, the two sides have stressed the importance of working together against cybercrime, as the West accuses Russia of piloting computer attacks against its rivals. And the leaders said they “hoped” for a constructive resumption of negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron will meet “in the next few days” with his Ukrainian counterparts Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian Vladimir Poutine, the Elysee Palace announced on Tuesday, in the wake of the virtual summit between the leader of the Kremlin and Joe Biden, in order to avoid military escalation in Ukraine. Washington had indicated that US President Joe Biden had spoken with the French, German, Italian and British leaders to “inform them” of the conversation with Vladimir Poutine “and to consult each other on the way forward”.