Putin and Biden to remain at the beckon of Russia-Ukraine tensions

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- The Presidents Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin and the United States will discuss the Russian troop buildup in Ukraine during Thursday's second conference call. There has been little progress towards ending this smoldering crisis.

Putin and Biden to remain at the beckon of Russia-Ukraine tensions

The White House stated that Biden would inform Putin that there is still a diplomatic route open, even though Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to Ukraine. Putin has increased his demands for security guarantees to prevent NATO expanding to Ukraine.

These demands will be discussed by high-ranking U.S. officials and Russian officials at talks in Geneva on January 10.

According to a senior administration official briefing reporters before the call, Biden will remind Putin that there must be "real progress" in the negotiations. An anonymous source spoke on condition.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that the call was initiated by Putin.

Peskov stated that the goal of the conversation was to continue the discussion on the topics raised during the video conference. The Dec. 7 call was focused on Russian troop movements that have upset Ukraine and other European allies as well as Moscow’s demand for security assurances.

Peskov pointed out that Moscow had submitted its security requests to U.S. officials since the call and that now, "from our perspective, from the viewpoint of President Putin," the need has been for a second telephone conversation that would precede the upcoming talks.

According to the official, Biden and Putin met in Geneva in June to discuss tensions in the U.S.-Russian relationship. They were not expected to participate in the January talks.

The White House stated that Biden had warned Moscow in a video call on Dec. 7, warning them of the sanctions and economic damage that would be wrought by an invasion of Ukraine. Russian officials dismissed the threat of sanctions.

As well as NATO and Moscow representatives, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (which includes the United States) are both expected to meet within a few hours of the Geneva talks.

Moscow submitted draft security documents requesting that NATO deny Ukraine membership and stop its military deployments in Central or Eastern Europe.

Russia has been denied the guarantees that Putin demands from the U.S. and its allies. They cite NATO's principle of open membership to any country that qualifies. However, they agreed to meet with Russia to address its concerns.

Biden was preparing for talks with Putin. The administration tried to emphasize the Ukraine commitment and to make it clear that Washington is committed "principleof nothing about you but you" when influencing policy that will affect European allies.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President. Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, said that Blinken reiterated the United States' support for Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity despite Russia's military buildup at its borders.

Biden and other administration officials plan to meet with European allies following the president's conversation with Putin. They will also be able to give them a readout about the engagement.

Putin stated earlier this week that he would consider a variety of options if NATO fails to fulfill its security commitments to Ukraine.

According to an administration official, Biden will likely stress to Putin in Thursday's call that the U.S. is united and willing to engage with Russia in "principled diplomacy".

In 2014, Russian troops invaded the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea to seize the territory from Ukraine. As Biden tries to manage the crisis, the Russian annexation Crimea is a significant moment for President Barack Obama.

In public comments, Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor, stated that the administration is open to discussing Moscow's concerns regarding NATO in talks with Russian officials. However Sullivan stressed that Washington will not be behind European allies in shaping policies that affect them.

The call will feature discussions between the two leaders to try to persuade Iran back to the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was effectively abandoned by Trump's administration.

Officials from the White House have stated that despite differences over Ukraine and other issues they believe the U.S. can cooperate on the Iran nuclear problem.

Biden is in Delaware for the week and is expected to talk to Putin from his Wilmington home.

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