Russia-Ukraine crisis updates: Joe Biden-Vladimir Putin Agree To Meet Over Ukraine Crisis
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden have agreed to a summit that will be held only if Moscow does not invade Ukraine, France announced Monday after a new round of diplomacy to avoid war everywhere. The two leaders agreed in principle to the summit proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said, adding that the White House had confirmed Biden's wishes, although it was particularly cautious. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky on Saturday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the crisis. In eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by pro-Russian forces, there is a "complete military coup". The United States has warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the need to consider Russia's demands to ensure Russia's security guarantees as seriously as possible, and in particular to respond to the issue. In a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, the two leaders discussed in-depth developments around Ukraine, as well as the long-term legal security guarantees for the Russian Federation, the Kremlin said in a statement.
A senior administration official told AFP: "The timing has to be decided. The format has to be decided, so it's all imaginary." Eliasson added that the summit would be extended to "relevant stakeholders" and that preparations between Russia and the United States would begin on Thursday.
Accordingly, Putin noted that "provocations by Ukrainian extremists were the main reason for the increase," adding that attention was being paid to modern weapons and ammunition being sent to Ukraine by NATO member states, encouraging Kiev to reach a military settlement on the Donbass. "As a result, citizens of Donetsk and the Luhansk People's Republic are being harassed and forced to flee to Russia to escape the onslaught," the statement said.
The summit was announced moments after Macron called for a second marathon with Putin. During his first 105 minutes of talks, Putin accused the Kremlin of "provoking Ukrainian security forces" to escalate violence on the front lines. Putin reiterated his call for "the United States and NATO to take Russian demands for security guarantees seriously." But Macron's office also said the two agreed on "the need to find a political solution to the current crisis and to do everything possible to achieve one."
AFP reporters heard more bombings overnight near the front line between government forces and Moscow-backed rebels in parts of the eastern Lugansk and Donetsk districts. In the village of Frontline in the Lugansk region, Zolote, an AFP reporter found residents hiding in a basement on the ground floor when the separatist conflict began in 2014. "They started firing heavily this week. Now they are firing again," said Oleksiy Kovalenko, a 33-year-old handyman.
Tighten The Screws:
Earlier, fears of escalation were heightened after Belarus announced on Sunday that Russian troops would remain on its soil following the planned end of joint exercises, which further tightened the screws on Ukraine. Moscow had earlier said that 30,000 troops in Belarus were conducting readiness exercises with its allies, which would be completed by Sunday, allowing the Russians to return to their bases. But Belarus said it had decided to "continue the investigation", citing increased military activity along its shared borders with Russia and alleged "growth" in eastern Ukraine.