O president of the United States, Joe Biden, on Tuesday asked its Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to “reduce” growing tensions with Ukraine and proposed a summit between the two leaders in a third country.
In a telephone conversation with Putin, Biden “expressed our concern about the sudden Russian military concentration in occupied Crimea and on the borders of Ukraine, and called on Russia to reduce tensions,” said the White House.
“President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia in relation to the interests of the United States, and proposed a summit in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of problems that the United States and Russia face” , according to a statement.
The summit would be between Putin and Biden, who took office in January promising a tougher line with Russia, both for its alleged interference in the American elections and for its treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Putin and Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, met in Finland in 2018, when the former American president generated outrage by appearing to accept the Russian leader’s denials of Moscow’s 2016 electoral interference.
Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea. Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to support the separatists, which Moscow denies.
The conflict, which has already left another 13,000 deaths, has intensified in recent weeks and clashes have occurred frequently, shaking a negotiated ceasefire last year.
The United States said the number of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is at its highest level since 2014.
Russia on Tuesday announced “training exercises” in the area in response to what it called “threatening” actions by the OTAN.
Earlier, the secretary general of the Transatlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, asked Russia to end its “unjustifiable, inexplicable and deeply worrying” military concentration near Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Kiev Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held talks with Stoltenberg and the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels.