Biden and Putin showdown – Crunch talks to avoid war as troops linger on Ukraine border

Ukraine should ‘consolidate strength’ and join NATO says soldier

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Discussions are likely to address Russia’s military build up on Ukraine’s borders in recent months. Moscow on the other hand will reaffirm its demands that Ukraine is not allowed to join NATO and that the alliance should roll back its eastern expansion.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, who declined to be named, explained that the talks would be open and frank.

They said: “When we sit down to talk, Russia can put its concerns on the table, and we will put our concerns on the table with Russia’s activities as well.

“There will be areas where we can make progress, and areas where we will disagree.

“That’s what diplomacy is about.”

However, the spokesperson made it clear that Russia will face severe consequences should they decide to invade Ukraine.

They said: “President Biden’s approach on Ukraine has been clear and consistent: unite the alliance behind two tracks – deterrence and diplomacy.

“We are unified as an alliance on the consequences Russia would face if it moves on Ukraine.”

A spokesperson for the Biden administration confirmed on Monday that Russia and NATO would hold talks on 12 January, with a broader regional meeting including Moscow, Washington and several European countries set for 13 January. 

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed those dates on Tuesday and said Russia-US talks would take place in Geneva on 10 January, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 has since backed pro-Russian separatists fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

Western leaders have been concerned by tens of thousands of Russian troops massing near the border of Ukraine sparking fears of a full-scale invasion.

Moscow has denied it is preparing for an assault claiming that they are there to defend Russia against an encroaching western military in the form of NATO. 

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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that Moscow wanted to ‘concentrate exclusively’ on two draft documents it had submitted.

These include a draft treaty with NATO calling for Ukraine to be resumed admission and for the alliance to remove its troops and infrastructure from countries that joined after 1997.

Most countries that have joined NATO since 1997 were either at one time part of the USSR or members of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.

However, on Monday US President Joe Biden signed into law a spending bill that will provide $300m for Ukraine’s armed forces, and billions more for European defence broadly.

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