Joe Biden snubbed: Putin sets out demands for emergency summit in neutral European nation

Russia: Putin issues warning about ‘crossing red line’

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A Kremlin aide said yesterday the meeting could happen in June, the RIA news agency reported. Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said Biden had offered Putin to meet on June 15-16 in a European country.

The foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said a firm decision on the meeting has not been taken yet.

Mr Ushakov, the Russian ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2008, said: “We will make a decision depending on many factors.”

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, cited by RIA, said on Sunday that Biden’s proposal for the summit has been received “positively” and is now under consideration.

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Russia’s Kommersant daily, citing unnamed sources, said Biden had offered Putin to meet on June 15-16 in a European country.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Putin and then US President Donald Trump held a summit in Helsinki in July 2018.

Earlier this month, Biden called on Putin to reduce tensions stirred by a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border and proposed a summit to tackle a raft of disputes.

The Kremlin said at the time that a summit would be contingent on US behaviour, reportedly telling Washington to scrap a plan to impose new sanctions on Russia.

Russia-US ties slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden agreed when asked in an interview if he thought Putin was a “killer” and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations.

Despite Moscow’s protests, the United States this month imposed a series of new sanctions against Russia for alleged interference in the 2020 US election, cyber-hacking, bullying Ukraine and other acts it deemed malign.

Putin took part in a virtual climate summit hosted by Biden last week.

Ukraine would doubtless be high on the agenda at any meeting between the two leaders.

Russia announced on Thursday it had completed a “snap inspection” of military drills in its south and west after weeks of tensions with the West over its concentration of tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine that had raised concerns in Kyiv and the West about the risk of war.

The remarks appeared to be the first US confirmation of any pullback in forces.

Ukraine had given a guarded welcome to Russia’s announcement of the troop drawdown. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “If Russia really pulls back from the border with Ukraine, the enormous military force it has deployed there, this will already ease tensions.”

The White House said Russia had more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014.

The Ukrainian president’s spokeswoman estimated earlier in April that Russia had more than 40,000 troops deployed on Ukraine’s eastern border and over 40,000 in Crimea. Around 50,000 of those forces were new deployments, she said.

Tensions spiked dramatically earlier this month after large numbers of Russian troops and materiel began massing at Russia’s western border with the former Soviet republic, and in Crimea, which Mr Putin annexed from Kyiv in 2014.

Speaking on Friday, a senior defense official said the US was seeing some Russian personnel withdrawing – but stressed it was still early, emphasising that Moscow’s announcement of its redeployment alone was “insufficient to give us comfort.”

The unnamed official said: “It’s a bit too soon to tell exactly what forces are withdrawing and exactly what equipment appears to be left behind.

“But I can just tell you, we’re looking very, very closely.”

(More to follow)

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