President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Tuesday as US-Russia relations are rapidly deteriorating due to Washington’s incredibly hostile actions and rhetoric against Moscow.
According to a readout of the call from the White House, President Biden “proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” The Kremlin confirmed in a statement on the call that Biden offered an in-person meeting.
The conversation comes as tensions are high in eastern Ukraine, and the US and its allies are hyping the movement of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine. For their part, Russia said they deployed troops near the western border due to the NATO threat. The US also stokes tensions in Ukraine by arming Kyiv. Washington has sent $2 billion in military equipment since the Donbas war started in 2014, which was sparked by a US-backed coup in Kyiv.
Speaking to Putin, President Biden “emphasized” the US’s “unwavering commitment” to Ukraine, a common phrase that US officials have repeated in recent weeks. The Kremlin said Putin outlined a “political settlement” for the situation in Ukraine.
Last month, Putin offered to hold talks with Biden after an interview aired where Biden agreed that the Russian president is a “killer” who has “no soul.” Besides the harsh rhetoric, the Biden administration has taken action against Russia through economic sanctions that were implemented over the jailing of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, and reports say more sanctions are expected.
One diplomatic success Biden has had with Putin is the agreement to extend New START, the vital nuclear treaty that was set to expire in February. The White House said Biden and Putin discussed “the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty.”
While Biden says he wants to pursue further arms control, his administration told partner countries in a diplomatic memo that a US return to the Open Skies Treaty would send the “wrong message” to Russia. Open Skies allows unarmed surveillance flights over participating countries. The Trump administration withdrew last year, and Russia followed in January after trying to preserve the agreement, but Moscow has said it is willing to discuss a revival of Open Skies if the US is willing.