Biden meets with EU allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin’s call


President Biden will seek to convince Russian Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday that the price for invading Ukraine will be higher than anything he has experienced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden tonight organized an appeal to Ukraine with leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain, while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America’s “unwavering support”.

Inventory: The United States is coordinating sanctions with its European allies that will be triggered if Putin proceeds.

  • A senior administration official told reporters on Monday that the United States was also ready to send additional military aid to Ukraine and increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on the “eastern flank”. of NATO in response to a Russian incursion.

Yes, but: The United States does not intend to use military force to defend Ukraine, and Putin is “not at all afraid of sanctions,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of political analysis firm R .Politik based in Moscow.

  • The most drastic sanction measure reportedly under discussion would be to disconnect Russia from the international payment system SWIFT. Russia’s central bank has already worked with Russian banks to prepare for this scenario, Stanovaya noted.

The big picture: Russia has deployed some 94,000 troops at various points near the border and “is stepping up planning for major military action against Ukraine,” the senior official told reporters ahead of the Biden-Putin conversation.

  • The White House also warned that the Kremlin was waging a campaign of disinformation against Ukraine, potentially as a pretext to blame Kiev for any military clashes.
  • “We do not know if President Putin has made a decision regarding further military escalation in Ukraine. But we do know that he is building the capacity to engage in such escalation if he decides to do so,” he said. declared the responsible.

Go back: This is the second time that an impending crisis has sparked a high-profile tête-à-tête with Putin – the first being the Geneva summit in June. The administration had hoped to keep Russia on the back burner, avoid escalation, and focus on China.

The other side: Putin defined his own red lines ahead of the call, including NATO’s potential deployment of offensive missile systems on Ukrainian territory.

  • He is also seeking a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward, including into Ukraine.
  • In addition, Moscow opposed NATO exercises near Russian borders and increased cooperation between the alliance and Ukraine.
  • Zelensky today went to the front lines of the looming conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists and issued a statement saying the Ukrainian military is ready to “thwart any plan to conquer the United States. enemy”.

Reality check: It seems unlikely that NATO will invite Ukraine to join it anytime soon or guarantee that it never will.

What to watch: “I think that Russia is engaged in diplomacy by other means. (…) ‘They will not listen to my pleas, they will not listen to my diplomatic notes, they will only pay attention to the movements of my troops, ”said Dmitry Trenin of Carnegie Moscow.

  • Trenin considers an invasion unlikely, not because of the threat of sanctions but because of the high military cost.
  • However, Stanovaya expects Putin to issue an “ultimatum” to Biden. If the United States and its allies do not seriously commit to the desired security guarantees by the start of next year, “it will go to war,” she said.
  • “I have never seen him in a position where he felt so strong, arrogant, sure of himself and ready to go much further than one can imagine,” she adds.


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