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Biden to talk with Putin amid US accusations against Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin

US President Joe Biden will talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week amid American accusations against Russia of a military buildup on the border with Ukraine.

Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti on Saturday that the two leaders would make a video call on Tuesday.

US and Russian officials also told Reuters on Saturday of the upcoming call between the two presidents amid reports over a Russian military buildup of tens of thousands of Russian troops on the Ukraine border.

The report by the Washington Post on Friday cited US officials and an intelligence document claiming Russia was planning a multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops as soon as next year.

“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders,” an administration official told The Post. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”

Russia has dismissed the allegations by the US media that it is planning a large-scale attack on Ukraine, accusing Washington of seeking to aggravate the situation by blaming Moscow at a time of tensions between the two neighbors.

Peskov said Biden and Putin will decide how long the call will last, with a US source saying Ukraine and other issues will be addressed during the conversation.

The US source said Biden will address concerns about Russia’s actions at Ukraine’s border and reiterate Washington’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty during the virtual meeting.

The United States, its NATO allies and Ukraine accuse Moscow of enlarging the number of troops near Ukraine's border as well as planning an invasion. Russia says there is no such plan, but it has warned against any provocation from Ukraine that could trigger such an invasion.

Moscow also says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.

On Friday, Biden slammed Russia’s actions at the Ukraine border, saying Washington will “make it very, very difficult” for Putin to attack.

“I have been in constant contact with our allies in Europe, with the Ukrainians. My secretary of State, national security adviser have been engaged extensively and what I am doing is putting together what I believe will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden said.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have gone through declension since 2014, when the then Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation. Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, and later imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Ukraine, along with its Western allies, also claims Russia has a hand in the ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. Moscow denies the allegation.

 


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