“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
President Biden urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine. He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” reported White House spokesperson Jen Psaki in a statement on Dec. 30.
It continued to say that President Biden supports inclusive solution-focused strategic stability dialogue and “he reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of de-escalation rather than escalation.”
The call took place against the background of intense pressure from a large force of Russian troops and heavy weapons mobilised within and near Ukraine’s border according to multiple official statements.
A senior official in the Biden Administration who asked to be identified as “Senior Administration Official” (SAO), elaborated on topics discussed by the two presidents during the call that took place at the request of Russia.
The US and Russian leaders spoke in a tone that was “serious and substantive” for 50 minutes and each outlined their respective positions.
President Biden outlined two paths forwards depending upon the actions of Russian forces. The first – a “path of diplomacy leading toward a de-escalation of the situation,” and the second – “focused on deterrence, including serious costs and consequences should Russia choose to proceed with a further invasion of Ukraine.”
Deterrence costs would “include economic costs, include adjustments and augmentations of NATO force posture in Allied countries, and include additional assistance to Ukraine to enable it to further defend itself and its territory.”
Presidents Biden and Putin agreed on the scheduling of the Strategic Stability Dialogue discussions. They will begin on Jan. 9/10, followed by a NATO-Russia Council meeting on Jan. 12, and a meeting with the OSCE on Jan. 13.
According to the SAO, the leaders acknowledged that there are some areas in which progress is possible and that only detailed talks will reveal the sticking points.
The U.S. official repeated that Biden was very clear with the Russian leader during the call that Washington has a “nothing about you without you” agreement to include and fully consult with all partners and allies on important issues that concern them. Putin indicated that he understood this according to the SAO.
In this context, the SAO shared that the U.S. has been in detailed discussions with allies and partners in the G7, NATO, the OSCE, Ukraine and many others in advance preparation for the scheduled diplomatic meetings.
“Our focus is really on actions and on indicators, not on words, at this point. So, we’re going to continue to monitor very closely the movement and build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border and prepare ourselves for whatever decision ultimately is made by the Russian president,“
said the Biden Administration official.
Biden expressed concern at the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border and threatened large scale Western sanctions in the economic and military spheres if the escalation continues, according to a report by TASS on Dec. 31 quoting Yuri Ushakov, an aide to President Putin. It said the Russian president responded that that such sanctions could lead to a “complete rupture” of relations between the two countries, and that such an action would be a mistake.
On the topic of missile deployment, Putin noted that one of his key demands was met when Biden stated that the U.S. does not intend to deploy offensive strike weapons in Ukraine, according to Ushakov. Putin mentioned repeated several times that Russia would react to the deployment of U.S. missiles near Russian borders the same way that America would react if offensive weapons were deployed near its borders.