Biden and Putin Hold Rare Bilateral Talks

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held rare bilateral talks on Tuesday on escalating Ukraine-Russia tensions. 

The two leaders spoke about Ukraine, as well as other disputes, amid fears that a military escalation is looming. The virtual talks lasted for two hours. 

Video footage of their meeting depicted a friendly greeting at the beginning of what has been expected to be a tense meeting discussing the Ukraine-Russia conflict. 

While a breakthrough was not necessarily expected, the talks were seen as both needed and consequential due to the rising tensions not only in Ukraine and on the Russian borders, but across Europe. 

Russia has shifted thousands of troops to its border with Ukraine but has said it has no plans of invading or attacking its neighbor. More than 90,000 troops are believed to be on the border. International analysts have warned that the Russian military buildup is the pretense for an invasion and not something to be overlooked. 

U.S.-Russian relations have reportedly sunk to their lowest since the end of the Cold War. 

The White House release said that the conversation covered a range of issues and that Biden voiced concerns about the forces amassing by the Ukraine border. The release said the U.S. and its Allies would respond with economic and other measures if there were to be a military escalation. The U.S. also reiterated support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. 

The other issues that were discussed included ransomware and cyber attacks, the Strategic Stability, and joint work on regional issues, including specifically, Iran. 

Both the White House and the Kremlin have said that their countries hoped the next bilateral meeting would be in person. The last known call to happen between the leaders was in July. Before that, they last participated in a summit in Geneva in June. 

Biden is expected to next speak with European leaders about his talks with Putin. The White House said the leaders of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Italy leaders have formed a joint strategy if Russia launches an invasion into Ukraine.

Potential measures against Russia could be restricting Russia’s banks from converting its currency into foreign ones, or disconnecting Russia from the Swift global financial payment system, or halting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany.

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