Moscow is pleased with the results of the new phone talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, Putin’s aide has said. Putin has, however, warned the US against escalating Russia sanctions policy.
In a statement released after the phone talks between the Russian leader and his US counterpart, the Kremlin revealed that Biden made a pledge to Putin not to deploy offensive arms to Ukraine.
“Biden made it clear that the US does not intend to deploy offensive strike weapons in Ukraine,” Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, said speaking to the Russian media.
Ushakov pointed out that this was also one of the goals Moscow hopes to achieve with its proposals for security guarantees to the US and NATO.
During a 50-minute talk Putin once again outlined the main principles of Russia’s security proposals that envision a ban on NATO’s expansion eastward. The Russian leader reportedly stressed that any potential deal with the West should include legally-binding guarantees of Russia’s security, with Ushakov noting that Biden appeared to have taken the demand “quite seriously.”
The Biden administration denied that the US leader had made any commitment during his conversation with Putin. “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,” a White House official said Thursday shortly after the talks wrapped up.
The Kremlin revealed that the upcoming security talks will be held in three formats: at the Russia-US level in Geneva, at the Russia-NATO level in Brussels, and at the level of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. The bilateral talks are set to kick off in Geneva on January 9.
The phone call took place amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. The US and its allies have repeatedly sounded the alarm about a potential Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, citing an alleged build-up of Russian troops within the country’s own borders.
Moscow has dismissed the speculation as baseless, insisting that it harbours no intention whatsoever to attack its southern neighbor.
In his phone call with Putin, Biden apparently doubled down on the assumption, threatening to impose wide-ranging sanctions aimed at crippling Russia’s economy, its financial sector as well as its military industry in case of “further escalation of the situation along the Ukrainian border,” Ushakov said.
If Washington follows through with its threat, however, it should be prepared to a complete breakdown of its already strained relations with Russia, the Russian official noted.
“If the West, under any pretext, decides to impose these unprecedented sanctions it can lead to a total collapse of the relations between our countries, and will deal a very serious blow to Russia-West relations as a whole, ”Ushakov said.
He went on to argue that a new round of US sanctions would be a “colossal mistake” that should be avoided, including for the sake of future generations.