President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed “in principle” to meet, U.S. and French officials said — even as troops continue to gather near the Ukraine border, suggesting the window for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis is closing. The summit was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron during separate calls with Biden and Putin on Sunday. Officials in Paris and Washington said the talks would go ahead only if Moscow doesn’t attack.
Russian officials were ambiguous about whether the summit would go ahead. While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday there are not “concrete plans” for a Russia-U. S. summit. “It is possible if the heads of states consider it expedient. A decision can be made at any moment.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Putin told Macron that he was “not against” a summit but it must be clear in advance what result was expected from a meeting, especially in such a tense atmosphere.”
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, struck a pessimistic chord in comments to ABC news: “We never give up hope on diplomacy until the missiles fly or the tanks roll,” he said. But “the likelihood there’s a diplomatic solution given the troop movements of the Russians is diminishing hour by hour.”
Underscoring Sullivan’s bleak assessment, Putin’s Security Council was meeting Monday to examine whether to recognize the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, a move that Russia could use to justify an attack in those areas. So the talk about talks did nothing to alleviate the tension.
Here’s what to know
- The United States has warned the United Nations that it has credible information showing that Moscow is compiling lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation,” according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
- Ukraine’s foreign minister on Monday urged the European Union to move forward on sanctions against Russia now, rather than waiting for the Kremlin to make additional moves.
- The United Kingdom and the United States could take steps to prevent Russian companies from trading in British pounds and U.S. dollars if Putin invades Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CRISIS