Moscow is “seriously interested” in obtaining “reliable and firm legal guarantees” excluding NATO’s further expansion eastward and deployment of “offensive strike weapons systems in countries adjacent to Russia,” the Kremlin said in a readout of Tuesday’s call between the two leaders.
Putin’s proposal came in response to Biden’s “concerns” about Russian troops allegedly threatening Ukraine and threats of US and allied sanctions against Russia, a subject that arose during the two-hour call. The Russian leader responded that it was NATO “making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory” and “building up its military potential at our borders.”
When asked about this, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US has made “no such commitments or concessions.”
Putin used specific examples to illustrate the “destructive” policy of Kiev, which he said was aimed at completely dismantling the Minsk agreements and the ‘Normandy format’ talks. He also expressed Moscow’s serious concerns about “provocative actions” by the government in Kiev against the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
Last week, before the date of the meeting was announced, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that the situation in Europe would be at the top of the agenda for the two leaders to discuss. The diplomat stressed that “contact is badly needed; we have multiplying problems. There is no progression on bilateral affairs, which are more and more spiraling into a phase of acute crisis.”
The talks come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border, which the White House has signaled as a key area on which bilateral negotiations are needed.