The president of United States, Joe Biden, has threatened his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, with which both the US and its European allies will impose harsh economic and other sanctions if the tension in Ukraine continues, a country for which the US president has reiterated his support. The leaders held this Tuesday a virtual summit with the aim of reducing tensions between the two countries after the warning issued by the US government about a possible invasion of Ukraine by the Kremlin.
The videoconference, in which Putin has participated from his residence in Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea, began around 15:00 GMT and lasted just over two hours. In it, both leaders also spoke about the battered bilateral relations and the agreements reached at their first summit in Geneva, last June, regarding the dialogues on strategic stability and cybersecurity or the elimination of obstacles to the work of the legations.
Russian spokesman Dmitri Peskov explained that the videoconference has taken place through a closed communication channel “that allows to speak on the most secret subjects”. “Unfortunately, we could not see each other at the G20 summit. And I hope we will see each other next time in person,” said the US leader at the beginning of the meeting.
After the meeting, Biden has called the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to update his European allies on the content of his conversation with Putin, especially regarding Ukraine. A day before that conversation, “they agreed to stay in close contact for a coordinated and comprehensive approach in response to the increase in Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders,” the White House explained in a short statement.
The US will reinforce the Ukrainian army with 300 million dollars
In the text of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2022 National Defense fiscal year, or NDAA, published this Tuesday, the United States Congress has included a $ 300 million reinforcement for the Ukrainian army, as well as a statement of support for the defense of Taiwan.
The document also authorizes $ 770 billion in military spending, including provisions such as a 2.7% salary increase for troops, reforms of the military justice system to combat sexual assault and initiatives to address geopolitical threats.
In addition, it includes $ 4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and proposes $ 150 million for security cooperation in the Baltic.
The Kremlin did not expect “progress”
The Kremlin assured, before the meeting, not to expect “progress” from the virtual summit between the presidents. “Do not expect progress., it is a work conversation in a difficult period “, said Dmitri Peskov, presidential spokesman, during his daily press conference. Peskov added, however, that the fact that both presidents sit down to talk is a good sign.
As reported by Peskov, the Russian president was ready to listen “with great interest” the US proposal. However, he also called for no illusions about the outcome of the telematic summit.
The spokesman described as “hostile and aggressive” the rhetoric of the US and several European countries and, especially of the Anglo-Saxon press, when denouncing alleged Russian plans to undertake the “invasion of Ukraine.”
Also, Putin had already indicated previously that Russia needs “legal and binding security guarantees.”
Ukraine accuses Russia of strengthening its positions in Donbas
For its part, Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of strengthening its positions on the contact line in the Donbas with additional units of artillery, tanks, armored infantry vehicles and snipers, according to the intelligence department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. “Russia continues to prevent the stabilization of the situation in the area of operation of the Joint Forces” in eastern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Army and separatist forces supported politically and militarily by Russia have been fighting since 2014.
According to Kiev, Russia “has increased the number of sniper pairs to inflict losses on the Ukrainian Army, destroy video surveillance elements and provoke retaliatory fire.” According to the Ukrainian military intelligence, the neighboring country carries out sniper training in Donetsk and Lugansk, where the combat is centered.
Both the Government of Volodymyr Zelensky and the United States accuse Russia of concentrating between 70,000 and 94,300 soldiers on the border with Ukraine for the purpose of attacking the neighboring country at the end of January 2022.