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Biden has 'no intention to sit down' with Putin at G20: White House

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 and Russian President Vladimir Putin

The White House says US President Joe Biden has "no intention" to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while attending the G20 summit in Indonesia, amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the Ukraine conflict.

"He has no intention to sit down with Vladimir Putin and that's where we are today," US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.

Biden has previously said he will not meet with Putin at the G20 summit.

Earlier this month, Biden set conditions for meeting Putin at the G20 summit, saying he has “no intention” of discussing Ukraine with him.

“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him. But for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said ‘I want to talk about the release of [Brittney] Griner,’ I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend,” Biden said arrogantly. Biden was referring to a US basketball player detained in Russia.

The US president went on to claim that neither he, “nor is anyone else” would negotiate with Russia about anything related to Ukraine, accusing Putin of committing “war crimes” and saying, “I don’t see any rationale to meet with him now.”

The two leaders have not spoken to each other directly since before Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine in late February.

On Tuesday, Biden warned Putin against using a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine as Moscow told a closed UN Security Council session that Washington or Kiev may carry out a false flag operation in the country to frame Russia.

“Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake for it to use a tactical nuclear weapon,” Biden told reporters. “I’m not guaranteeing you that it’s a false flag operation yet. I don’t know. But it would be a serious, serious mistake.”

Russia has said that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” which is an explosive device laced with radioactive material.

Russia on Tuesday voiced its concerns to the United Nations Security Council during a closed-door meeting of the 15-member body.

Biden has warned of the risk of nuclear "Armageddon".

Biden said earlier this month that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use the country’s nuclear weapons in face of the Western nuclear aggression.

“This is not a bluff,” Putin said last month. “And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them.”

For months, US officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility of Russia using weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine. However, the officials conceded that they have seen no change to Russia's nuclear forces that would require a change in the alert posture of American nuclear forces.

President Putin launched a military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014 Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Putin said earlier that he will “protect our land using all our forces and means at our disposal, and will do everything to ensure people’s security.

US says to 'hold Russia accountable' if satellites attacked

Meanwhile, the United States said it will respond in an "appropriate" way to any Russian attack against US commercial satellites.  

The White House made the statement on Thursday after a Russian official suggested they could become legitimate targets in space, AFP reported.

"Any attack on US infrastructure will be met with an appropriate response in an appropriate way," Kirby told reporters. The United States will "hold Russia accountable for any such attack, should it occur."

Russian foreign ministry official Konstantin Vorontsov told the United Nations on Wednesday that the use of commercial satellites "in outer space for military purposes" by Western countries is an "extremely dangerous trend."

"These states do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect participation in military conflicts," Vorontsov said. "Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation."

Kirby said, "the only thing that's provocative right now and dangerous is Russia's war in Ukraine and the manner which they're prosecuting that war."


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