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Putin-Biden conversation is 'welcome sign' amid growing war risks, US expert says

A meeting with Xi Jinping is also needed, according to the expert

WASHINGTON, April 15. /TASS/. The telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden, as well as Washington’s idea of holding another bilateral summit meeting, are a favorable sign amid growing military confrontation risks in the world, the Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University in Washington, Peter Kuznick, told TASS in an interview.

"US/NATO-Russian and US-Chinese relations right now are deeply alarming, as are some of the developments surrounding the Iranian nuclear negotiations," Kuznick said.

"Biden took office clearly signaling that he was going to take a confrontational stance toward Russia and China. He surrounded himself with hawkish advisors. He proceeded to call Vladimir Putin a "killer" and lash out aggressively toward Russia on human rights, cyber intrusion, and election interference. It is no wonder that leaders in Kiev and Taiwan read these signals as indications that they could behave more provocatively and they have," he believes.

The US analyst believes that "the risk of war has been substantially heightened" against the backdrop of the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border and "increased military activity in the Taiwan Straits by both the US and China."

"Ukraine's renewed calls for admission to NATO and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's announcement that the US is deploying an additional 500 troops to Germany, reversing Trump's call for troop reductions, have thrown more fuel on an already smoldering fire," he added.

A welcome sign

"So, in this context, it is a welcome sign that Biden and Putin spoke by phone and that they are talking about a summit meeting. A meeting with Xi Jinping is also needed," Kuznick believes.

"Such meetings can't come soon enough," he remarked. "In preparation, all sides must take immediate steps to defuse tensions. War will be in no one's interests and could easily expand to something truly catastrophic."

Doomsday Clock

Kuznick recalled that at the end of January 2020 nuclear scientists made a decision to leave the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds before "midnight." Specialists make a decision on this score every year to answer the question if the world at this particular moment is closer or farther away from the risk of disasters related to climate change, nuclear weapons or destructive technologies in other fields.

"The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists placed the hands of the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds before midnight in January 2020. I'm afraid it might be necessary to move it even closer," Kuznick warned.

"I've seen more discussion of the use of nuclear weapons by military officials in recent months than I have in a long time. No one knows for certain how the US might respond to military engagement in either the Donbass or Taiwan and I, for one, don't want to find out," he concluded.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden held a second telephone conversation since the American leader took office. The Kremlin said the two leaders discussed in detail the condition of bilateral relations and a number of international issues. The White House said Biden had invited Putin to hold a face-to-face meeting in a third country within months. Later the US side said that the plans for a summit meeting by no means changed its policy of pressure on Russia.

Russia-US relations aggravated after Biden’s controversial television interview, in which he said that the Russian leadership would have to "pay the price" for alleged interference in US elections. Also, Biden replied in the affirmative, when asked if he regarded Putin as a "killer". Both the White House and the US Department of State later said that Washington counted on constructive cooperation with Moscow in spheres of mutual interest but had no intention of smoothing over contradictions in bilateral relations.