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Kremlin describes bilateral ties with US as ‘deplorable’ ahead of Biden-Putin summit

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)
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov

The Kremlin says the state of relations between the United States and Russia is “deplorable” prior to an online meeting during which Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, are set to discuss escalating tensions around Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was speaking at a news briefing in Moscow on Monday. He said NATO and long-term guarantees of Russia's security from the West, which Putin has said Moscow needs, would also be in focus during the video call on December 7.

At a Biden-Putin summit in the Swiss city of Geneva in June, the Russian leader called for legally-binding guarantees that NATO will not expand further eastwards and a pledge that certain types of weapons will not be deployed in countries close to Russia, including Ukraine.

"It will be necessary to discuss what is being done to implement the understandings that were achieved in Geneva and to take a look at what is being implemented to the full extent and what requires extra efforts. Of course, this concerns bilateral relations, whose condition remains deplorable," Peskov was quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency as saying.

“Then the presidents will discuss the high-profile issues on the agenda - in the first place, tensions over Ukraine, NATO’s expansion towards our borders and Putin’s security guarantees initiative.”

Stressing that the security guarantees could not be unilateral and “can be only mutual,” the Kremlin official said, “President Putin is a politician who insists on mutual respect and equitable bilateral relations.”

Russian media said Putin is expected to raise the possibility of holding another summit with Biden after the video call on Tuesday. The two presidents first met in June.

Tensions have escalated between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

The United States, its NATO allies and Ukraine have over the past weeks accused Moscow of enlarging the number of troops near Ukraine's border for a possible invasion. Russia has adamantly dismissed the allegation, but it has warned against any provocation from Ukraine that could trigger such an invasion. Moscow says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.

The Russian president has warned the West and Kiev against crossing the Kremlin's "red lines" over staging military exercises and sending weaponry to Ukraine.

Russia: US trying to undermine deal on S-400 supplies to India

Separately on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a deal to provide India with S-400 air defense missile systems was being implemented despite US efforts to undermine the accord. Lavrov said at a news conference in the capital New Delhi that India had made clear it was a sovereign country.

"The deal is being implemented. We witnessed terms on the part of the United States to undermine this cooperation and to make India obey the American notice, to follow the American vision of how this region should be developed," the top Russian diplomat told the presser.

"Our Indian friends, clearly and firmly, explained that they are a sovereign country and they will decide on whose weapons to buy and who is going to be a partner of India under these areas. It is confirmed - it was mentioned today as well - that the Russia-India relations have been characterized and remained as specially privileged strategic partnership."

In October 2018, India signed a $5-billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the long-range S-400 missile systems. The supplies will put India at risk of sanctions from the United States under a 2017 US law aimed at deterring countries from buying Russian military hardware.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump had warned India that going ahead with the contract could invite the sanctions.

The S-400 entered service with the Russian army in 2007 and is considered Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system. Capable of engaging targets at a distance of 400 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers, the missile system can destroy aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles. It can also be used against land-based targets.

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