Russia Needs Legally Binding Agreements on Security Guarantees, Kremlin Says After Putin-Biden Call
The two leaders were expected to discuss security and strategic issues, including escalating tensions over NATO expansion and Ukraine. Russian and NATO negotiators are set to meet in Brussels for security talks on January 12, following a strategic stability dialogue between senior Russian and US diplomats in Geneva.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed to Sputnik that the phone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, had come to an end.
"They have ended [the conversation]," Peskov said.
The phone call ended at 4:25 pm EST (21:25 GMT), lasting about 50 minutes, according to a White House official.
Russia Stresses That It Needs Outcome of Security Guarantees Talks, Biden Understands That
Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov has described the talks on Thursday as substantive, saying that all main topics were discussed. Putin told Biden about the key principles of the earlier submitted documents on security, he said, adding that Russia needs legally binding agreements on security guarantees.
"Vladimir Putin outlined in detail the basic principles that were put in the documents we handed over, and stressed that negotiations on these three tracks are important for us [bilateral talks in Geneva, Russia-NATO council in Brussels, and OSCE summit in Vienna]," Ushakov told reporters on Thursday. "But the main thing is that we need a result, and we will achieve a result in the form of ensuring the guaranteed security of Russia."
"Biden has clearly said that the United States is not going to deploy offensive strike weapons to Ukraine," Ushakov said.
"It seems to me that Washington understands Russia's concerns, although Washington has its own concerns. Yet, President Biden is ready to continue the dialogue with President Putin, and this is what, in fact, our leaders have agreed upon - the dialogue will continue. Moreover, the Presidents, as I have already said, will not only continue to maintain a dialogue but also push the negotiations that our respective interdepartmental teams will be conducting in Geneva," Ushakov said when asked about the emotional background of the conversation between the two presidents on Thursday.
Biden in Call With Putin Urges Russia to De-Escalate Ukraine Tensions
A senior US administration official said during a press briefing following the phone call that the tone of the talks was "serious and substantive" as the two leaders addressed concerns over Russian military activity near Ukraine and NATO's expansion near Russia's border. Biden laid out the path of the United States' approach that will depend on Russia's actions, the official added.
President Biden urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine. He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"We are not going to draw conclusions, and there were certainly no declarations as to intentions from this conversation, but regardless, our focus is really on actions and on indicators, not on words at this point," the senior administration official said.
Security Guarantees Talks to Be Held in 3 Formats: Geneva, Brussels, Vienna
"Most notably, the presidents have agreed that negotiations on a such important issue [of security guarantees] for us and for Europe, in general, and the world will be held in three directions, that is, in Geneva, in Brussels through Russia-NATO and in Vienna through the OSCE. But, as it was noted, the parties will treat the bilateral negotiations with all seriousness, and the process of the Geneva talks will go under the personal supervision and under the personal control of the two presidents," Ushakov told reporters.
"Over the next week to ten days ... we expect to continue what's been a very intensive period of consultations on the US side with our allies and partners, including providing an account of this conversation to those allies and partners, in particular, of course, to the government of Ukraine, as well as to NATO," the US official said.
Earlier in the day, Putin wished US President Joe Biden Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and said that Russia and the US can and should interact constructively joining efforts on tackling threats, the Kremlin press service reported.
In a congratulatory message, Putin stressed that "Russian and the United States bearing a specific responsibility for regional and international security can and should interact constructively, joining efforts against numerous challenges and threats the humanity faces."
On December 17, Moscow published its proposals on mutual security guarantees with the US and NATO.
"We wanted people in Russia and Ukraine and people in Europe and the United States to understand our idea, what we wanted to achieve with these talks. I don't see anything wrong with that," Putin said earlier. "But for us, the only goal is to have the agreements that would ensure security for Russia and its people today and in the long term."
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, a "ball is on the US side" when it comes to negotiations on security guarantees and other security issues.
Tensions have been high over Ukraine in the past couple of months amid accusations of an alleged Russian troop buildup at the Ukrainian border and claims of preparations for an invasion. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations, arguing that Russia has the right to relocate troops within its sovereign territory at its own discretion, while saying that NATO's military activity near Russia's borders poses a threat to its national security.
On Tuesday, a US defense official told Sputnik that the United States is retaining a nuclear aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean instead of sending it on to the Middle East in order to reassure allies.
The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its escorts are now operating in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy rather than sailing through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea in support of the US Central Command, according to media reports.
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