MOSCOW/WASHINGTON, December 7. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden will hold bilateral talks in a video conference format on Tuesday.
The leaders are expected to discuss the situation around Ukraine, NATO’s eastward expansion, some issues of strategic stability and the bilateral agenda. They may also touch upon the regional security, including the situation in Afghanistan.
Talking from Sochi via secure line
Putin will contact his US counterpart from his Sochi residence. The Russian president headed there after his visit to New Delhi.
The conference will be held via a secure video conference line, designed for communication between national leaders. According to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, this line was established "during previous [US] administrations," when there "was still something creative" in the Russian-US relations. However, this line saw no use until now and was "effectively maintained at technically operational level." It will be used for the first time on Tuesday.
According to the spokesman, the video talks between the two leaders will not differ in principle from a phone call or meeting in person. This special line makes it possible for them to discuss even the most closed of topics, he assured. Earlier, Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov made a similar remark. When asked if it would be possible for the two leaders to discuss the most complicated of topics over this line, he noted: "Easy! Why not?"
The upcoming Putin-Biden conversation will become the fifth since Biden’s assumption of the presidential office. Previously, the two leaders had three phone calls, and met in Geneva in person in June this year. The in-person meeting lasted for almost two hours and was a constructive one, according to both parties. The Geneva summit became the first Russia-US summit since 2018. Putin made the first international visit since the beginning of the pandemic to take part in this event.
Implementation of previous agreements
According to Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, the upcoming video link will be "an important contact in the furtherance of the Geneva talks." The two leaders will touch upon issues of the implementation of the previous agreements.
In their joint statement after the Geneva talks, the presidents stressed that the sides intend to launch an all-round substantive and energetic bilateral dialogue on strategic stability. Apart from that, Moscow and Washington agreed to begin consultations on cybersecurity, exchange of prisoners and arms control.
On Tuesday, the two leaders are expected to speak about bilateral affairs and current issues on the international agenda, including the Ukrainian crisis, the situation in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, and, probably, in Syria. According to Ushakov, the presidents may discuss "the progress in the strategic stability dialogue." "It is highly probable that the issue of the implementation of our idea of organizing a summit of the United Nations Security Council permanent members will also be touched upon," he said.
Apart from that, Ushakov did not rule out that Putin and Biden will exchange views on the situation on the oil market, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change.
According to a high-ranking White House official, Biden plans to discuss with Putin a range of important matters, including strategic stability, cyberspace, and Iran’s nuclear program. In his words, ahead of his talks with Putin, the US president will speak over the phone with the European allies to coordinate actions.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had telephone talks with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ahead of the Biden-Putin talks and will call him after to tell about their results.
NATO’s eastward expansion
NATO-related issues will become another point of the discussion. The two leaders will discuss legal agreements that will rule out further eastward expansion of the Alliance and deployment of weapon systems that pose threat to Russia in Russia’s neighboring states, including Ukraine.
"I believe that the Russian President will discuss it during his upcoming contact with President Biden," Ushakov noted.
According to the official, such guarantees are becoming urgently necessary, considering the current tense situation, and they must be cemented on paper. Previously, both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation heard promises that NATO’s military structures will not advance eastward, but "it turned out that these verbal promises were worth nothing," the official said.
Speaking to journalists, Biden rejected Russia’s demands for guarantees of security in the context of Ukraine. He was asked to comment on the reports that Moscow considers further approach of the NATO infrastructure to the Russian border and deployment of strike systems - including hypersonic weapons - in Ukraine to be a red line.
"I don’t accept anybody’s red lines," Biden said.
He added that he hopes to have a "long discussion" with Putin over the situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border. Besides, he disclosed that the US Administration is preparing a set of initiatives regarding Russia and Ukraine, and has regular contacts with Kiev and European allies regarding the situation in the region.
Earlier on Monday, CNN reported that the US authorities were allegedly considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on Russia amid the recent developments in Ukraine. According to its sources, the potential new US sanctions may affect the Russian president’s close associates and also include the disconnection of Russia from the SWIFT system (the international payment and data transfer system).
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, commenting on such reports, castigated them as a manifestation of the informational tantrum that had been observed in recent days in the Western media.
At the same time, claims of a potential Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine have become increasingly frequent in the West and in Ukraine. Russia calls such claims empty and groundless. According to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the US are trying to escalate the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, accusing Moscow of plotting an invasion.
The Kremlin spokesman was also saddened by such an aggressive rhetoric from the US and Europe, noting that Russia saw several fake news about the allegedly planned invasion of Ukraine, however, the West did not prevent Kiev from resolving the Donbass conflict by force.
Need for direct dialogue
The Kremlin spokesman ahead of the meeting urged not to indulge in unrealistic "emotional" expectations from the talks between Putin and Biden. Speaking about the possible results of the negotiations, Peskov admitted that "it was hard to expect breakthroughs from these talks."
According to the presidential spokesman, there is a chance that the heads of state at least will manage to "message their concerns to each other" and respond to them. Meanwhile, Peskov pointed out a revival in relations between the two countries.
In turn, Washington emphasized that there was no substitute for direct dialogue between the presidents, so Biden hailed the opportunity to hold such talks with Putin.
Furthermore, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that during the upcoming talks, Biden was going to declare Washington’s commitment to more stable relations with Moscow. However, the US leader intends to take a decisive stance regarding any reckless or aggressive actions that Russia may take.
At the same time, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the upcoming summit should not be viewed as an opportunity for the US to set out threats to Russia. According to Psaki, Washington strives to stabilize the ties with Moscow and does not seek escalation.