Biden To Speak With Ukraine's President On January 2 As U.S. Seeks To Defuse Crisis
By RFE/RL December 31, 2021
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden will hold another call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on January 2 as the United States seeks to defuse a crisis sparked by Russia's military buildup.
During the call with Zelenskiy, Biden intends to "reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity" in the face of Russian aggression," a White House official said on December 31 in announcing the date of the call.
The two leaders will also discuss U.S. preparations for talks with Russia next month aimed at de-escalating the situation in the region, the official said.
The upcoming call with Zelenskiy is the latest in a flurry of White House diplomacy to address the Kremlin military threat and comes on the heels of talks between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 30. Biden last spoke to Zelenskiy three weeks ago.
Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine as it makes demands for sweeping security guarantees from the United States and NATO.
In particular, Moscow wants NATO to deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Biden administration and NATO have repeatedly said that the alliance has an open-door policy and that no country should have a veto over the alliance aspirations of another country.
Zelenskiy has also shown no signs of backing away from his call for NATO membership. His ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, reiterated Ukraine's aspiration to join the Western military alliance in an interview with RFE/RL due to air January 1.
Putin has said he would ponder various options if the West fails to meet Moscow's demands for security guarantees.
Biden warned Putin during their call on December 30 that the United States and its allies would impose severe sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine.
The Biden administration has been in close contact with allies to demonstrate a united front ahead of talks next month with Russia.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Canadian and Italian counterparts on December 31 to coordinate their policies aimed at deterring Russia from attacking Ukraine.
Blinken also spoke with NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg about the upcoming NATO-Russia Council talks.
During their call on December 30, Biden and Putin set the groundwork for three sets of upcoming talks aimed at diffusing the crisis. The State Department said earlier in the week that Biden would speak with Zelenskiy following his call with Putin.
The Biden administration has repeatedly said it would not discuss Ukraine's security without consulting Kyiv.
U.S. and Russian officials will meet January 9-10 in Geneva to discuss arms control and the mounting tensions over Ukraine under their bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue.
That will be followed by a separate meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels on January 12.
Another meeting will be held in Vienna a day later within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States, its European allies, Ukraine, and Russia.
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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