In Moscow, it was after midnight when Putin hung up the phone. The phone call is said to have taken place at the request of the Russian president. The White House and the Kremlin are expected to publish their summaries of the conversation later, which traditionally diverge widely.
New Year’s Message
In Putin’s New Year’s message to Biden, which the Kremlin released earlier today, the Russian president emphasized that their “countries, which bear a special responsibility for international and regional stability, can and should work together to meet the many challenges in unity. who stand before humanity.”
With a presence of about 100,000 troops around the Ukrainian border, Moscow says Moscow is preparing for a possible incursion into the neighboring country, from which Russia already annexed Crimea in 2014, and is supporting separatists in their war against the Ukrainian army.
However, Moscow bounces the ball back and says that NATO, with its military presence in Eastern Europe, is right on the Russian threshold. Putin said last weekend that he was listening to his military advisers about possible ‘military-technical’ measures, should diplomacy not offer a way out.
After the two-hour phone call early this month, Biden promised negotiations with other NATO countries, in which the Russians can express their concerns about the military alliance.
A week later, Moscow tabled a package of demands that would put an end to further NATO expansion, particularly to Ukraine, and reduce the military alliance’s presence in member states in Central and Eastern Europe.
The White House has indicated that some of the proposals are negotiable, while others – for example, future NATO memberships – cannot be subject to a Russian veto.
On January 10, on the first working day after the Russian Christmas holidays, talks are scheduled in Geneva between delegations led by the Russian and American deputy foreign ministers.
Negotiations between Russia and NATO and with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the peace process in eastern Ukraine, will take place during the rest of that week. A summit between the two presidents, such as in Geneva in June, is not yet on the agenda.