President Biden called on Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine and proposed meeting in person to discuss the challenges facing the two nations.
Mr. Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to The White House, and also made it clear that he is concerned about Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders.
He also floated the idea of holding a United States-Russia summit in a third country.
“During this call, they discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues building on the extension of the new START treaty,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the daily briefing. “President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interest in response to Russia’s actions such as cyber intrusions and election interference.”
“Our approach to our relationship with Russia is one where we certainly expect the relationship to remain a challenge,” she said. “We expect there will be continued difficult conversations. We are prepared to confront those, but our goal is to have a relationship with Russia that is predictable and stable.”
The Russian government has confirmed the summit offer but has not said whether Mr. Putin would accept.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, meanwhile, argued Tuesday it was the U.S. and its European allies who were exacerbating tensions in the region, saying the U.S. has placed tens of thousands of troops close to Russia‘s border from the Baltics in the north to the Balkans in the south.
He said the Russian forces now on the Ukrainian border were engaged in “combat training exercises” in answer to NATO’s military moves.
“In response to the alliance’s military activities that threaten Russia, we took appropriate measures,” Mr. Shoigu said in televised remarks, according to the TASS news service, adding the exercises would be completed within two weeks.
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