Posts tagged with "U.S. President Joe Biden"

Biden phones Putin to de-escalate tensions along Ukraine border

January 3, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday afternoon, December 30, again warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of painful economic consequences, should Russian forces invade Ukraine, reports NPR.

But Biden also made clear that the United States sees a diplomatic path forward to address some of Russia’s concerns about the expansion of the Western-backed NATO in the region.

An Administration official who asked to have his name withheld said the purpose of the call, which Putin requested, was primarily to set the “tone and tenor” for planned security talks between U.S. and Russian officials on January 10 in Geneva.

It was the second time the two leaders spoke during December, as Russia has assembled as many as 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, prompting fears of an invasion.

Another Administration official has described the situation as a “moment of crisis.” U.S. officials say they have not seen any significant signs of de-escalation.

“President Biden urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement after the call. “He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”

The 50-minute call was “serious and substantive,” according to the administration official who briefed reporters on Thursday.

Biden laid out two paths forward, the official said: “One is a path of diplomacy, leading toward a de-escalation of the situation. The other path is more focused on deterrence, including serious costs and consequences should Russia choose to proceed with a further invasion of Ukraine.”

But both leaders acknowledged areas where “meaningful progress” could be made, as well as some areas “where agreements may be impossible,” the official said.

Putin aide Yuri Ushakov described the talks as good and frank, but said that Putin warned Biden that his promise of punishing sanctions could lead to a complete breakdown in U.S.-Russian relations that would in the future be seen as a big mistake.

According to NPR, Putin has made his concerns clear: He wants written assurances that Ukraine will not be admitted into NATO. He also wants Western troops and arms out of other former Soviet states in Eastern Europe.

The U.S. and its allies have refused any such guarantees, but White House officials said they were open to hearing Russia’s concerns about NATO.

In addition to economic sanctions, Biden told Putin in their earlier call, on December 7, that if Russia were to invade Ukraine, the U.S. would provide additional defensive equipment and supplies to the Ukraine—and potentially deploy U.S troops to other nearby Eastern European countries.

U.S. and Russian leaders will lay out their concerns during the January 10 talks. Moscow is expected to continue the conversation with NATO officials two days later and then after, on January 13, tp meet separately with the members of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Ukraine is a member.

Whether there is a resolution that can satisfy Putin’s demands and avoid war is unclear.

Samuel Charap, who was a top Russia adviser in the Obama Administration, is not optimistic. “I don’t yet see a pathway out of this where everyone can go home and there’s no conflict,” said Charap, who is now an analyst at the Rand Corporation. “It seems clear to me that Putin is not willing to take away the threat until he gets something. And if he doesn’t get something, I think he seems prepared to act.”

That Putin called for Thursday’s call led some to believe that he may be seeking a way out of the stand-off.

The Biden official told reporters that Putin did not share if he had made a decision on whether he would invade Ukraine.”We’re not going to draw conclusions and there were certainly no declarations as to intention from this conversation,” the official said. “But regardless, our focus is really on action, and on indicators, not on words at this point.”

Research contact: @NPR

30×30: More than 80 nations pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030

November 3, 2021

On Tuesday, November 2, dozens of countries joined a United States and European Union pledge to cut emissions of methane—the most potent greenhouse gas—by 30% this decade, in the most significant climate commitment so far at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Agence France-Presse reports.

The initiative, which experts say could have a powerful short-term impact on global warming, followed an announcement earlier Tuesday in which more than 100 nations agreed to end deforestation by 2030.

“One of the most important things we can do between now and 2030, to keep 1.5C in reach, is reduce our methane emissions as soon as possible,” said U.S. President Joe Biden, referring to the central goal of the 2015 Paris agreement.

Biden called the pledge, which has so far been signed by more than 80 nations, a “game-changing commitment” that covered countries responsible for around half of global methane emissions.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the methane cut would “immediately slow down climate change”.

“We cannot wait until 2050. We have to cut emissions fast and methane is one of the gases we can cut the fastest,” she said.

Organizers say the ensuing shuttle diplomacy and painstaking negotiation will be crucial for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and its goal to limit temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

While the summit’s first day passed with much rhetoric but only lukewarm climate pledges, Tuesday’s twin announcements were broadly welcomed by campaigners.

Research contact: @AFP

Biden-Putin summit: U.S. and Russian leaders meet for tense Geneva talks

June 17, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, met in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16 for four hours during their first, highly-anticipated summit, the BBC reports.

The talks came at a time when both sides describe relations as being “at rock bottom.” President Biden had said that he expected no major breakthroughs —but hoped to find small areas of agreement.

Among the topics that were slated to be covered, according to the BBC, were the following:

  • Diplomacy: The two sides are expected to discuss the withdrawal of their ambassadors, who returned home amid heightened tensions. America has expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two compounds in recent years; while U.S. missions in Russia are set to be barred from employing locals, meaning dramatic cuts in services including visas.
  • Arms control: Officials also believe there could be common ground on arms control. In February, the countries extended their New Start nuclear arms control treaty. Russia wants this to be further extended.
  • Cyberattacks: Biden is expected to raise concerns over recent cyberattacks that the United States has linked to Russia-based hackers. Putin has denied Russian involvement.
  • Elections: The issue of alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections is also likely to come up. Again, Putin denies any involvement.
  • Prisoners:The families of two former U.S.Marines who are being held in Russian prisons have pressed for their release ahead of the summit. Asked if he would be willing to negotiate on a prisoner swap, Putin told NBC News, “Of course”
  • Navalny:The Russian side has called the alleged poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny an internal political matter. But a senior U.S. official told the Associated Press news agency that there is “no issue that is off the table for the president.”
  • Ukraine: Relations with America when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. There have been warnings this year of a build-up of Russian troops in Crimea and near Ukraine’s border,sparking concerns of preparations for war. Putin also has baulked recently at the idea of Ukrainian membership of NATO.
  • Syria:Biden is expected to appeal to Russia not to close the only remaining UN aid corridor from Turkey into opposition-held northwest Syria. A vote on r-authorizing the corridor will be held by the UN Security Council, in which Russia—which supports Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad—has veto power

According to The New York Times, emerging from his first meeting with Biden since his election as U.S. president, Putin began by saying the talks had gone well—but it soon became clear that tensions between the countries may be unlikely to ease significantly any time soon.

Putin denied that Russia has played a role in a spate of increasingly bold cyberattacks against U.S. institutions, and said the United States was the biggest offender.

The Times reported that the Russian leader’s remarks suggested that he was not interested in discussing what Biden had said was a key objective of the talks: to establish some “guardrails” about what kinds of attacks on critical infrastructure are off limits in peacetime.

Putin did suggest that there had been some kind of agreement to establish expert groups to examine these issues, but U.S. officials fear it is little more than a ploy to tie the matter up in committee.

“There has been no hostility,” Putin declared. “On the contrary, our meeting took place in a constructive spirit.”

Addressing reporters at the Geneva villa where the meeting took place, the Russian president said: “Both sides expressed their intention to understand each other and seek common ground. The talks were quite constructive.”

Research contact: @BBCNews

Biden says Putin is a ‘killer,’ who will ‘pay a price’ for interfering in U.S. politics

March 19, 2021

Moscow responded angrily on March 18—a day after U.S. President Joe Biden labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” during a TV interview and warned that Russia would “pay a price” for 2020 election interference, NBC News reports.

Following Biden’s comments, which aired in America on Wednesday and also were seen on Russian state TV, Moscow immediately recalled its ambassador to the United States for “consultations,” the foreign ministry said.

Asked about Biden’s comments on Thursday, Putin said he wished his counterpart in Washington good health and was saying that “without irony—but charged that the comments reflected America’s own troubled past.

While praising the American people, Putin said the legacy of slavery and the country’s treatment of Native Americans weighed heavily on its dealings abroad.

“In the history of every people, every state, there are a lot of hard, dramatic and bloody events. But when we evaluate other people or even other governments, we always look as if into the mirror. We always see ourselves in it,” Putin said.

“I remember when I was young and I got into fights with my friends, we always used to say ‘whoever calls names is called that himself,'” he added.

“And that’s not just a children’s joke. The meaning is quite deep psychologically. We always see our own qualities in another person and think that he/she is like ourselves. And coming from that, evaluate his/her actions and evaluate him/her overall.”

Putin’s response was delivered during a call with residents of Crimea marking the anniversary of its 2014 annexation from Ukraine. He added that Russia would still cooperate with the U.S. where it serves Moscow’s interests.

The comments came shortly after the Kremlin said Biden’s remarks suggested that he “definitely does not want to improve relations” between the two countries, NBC News noted.

“I won’t be wordy in reaction to this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “I will only say that these are very bad statements by the U.S. president.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not cite specific reasons for recalling ambassador Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday, but Russia’s embassy in Washington, D.C. released its own comment early Thursday blaming “certain ill-considered statements of high-ranking U.S. officials” for putting the “already excessively confrontational relations under the threat of collapse.”

During Wednesday’s interview with ABC News Biden said that Russia would face consequences for meddling in last year’s presidential election after a declassified report from the U.S. national intelligence director’s office found earlier this week that Putin authorized influence operations to help former President Donald Trump in last November’s election.

“(Putin) will pay a price,” Biden said, when asked about the report. Biden did not disclose what price Putin could pay, only saying, “You will see shortly.”

The Kremlin had earlier dismissed the allegations in the report as baseless.

Asked if he thinks Putin is a killer, Biden said, “I do.”

Biden also confirmed that he once told Putin the Russian leader doesn’t “have a soul.” He said Putin responded to the comment, made during a visit to the Kremlin as vice president in 2011, by saying “We understand each other.”

The State Department said Wednesday that it was aware of Russia’s decision to recall its ambassador.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden Administration will take a more straightforward and direct approach in its relationship with Russia than did former President Donald Trump.

Research contact: @NBCNews