By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
With close to 100,000 Russian troops marching near the Ukrainian border, U.S. President Biden had hoped to convince his Russian counterpart to back off.
But Russian President Putin warned Biden that Russia wouldn’t tolerate the U.S.-led NATO military alliance expanding farther east or deploying weapons in Ukraine, according to scarce remarks issued after the video call.
Biden told Russia it must not go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine and would face more massive economic sanctions if it did. He offered “broader strategic talks” between the NATO allies and Russia if the threat of Russian invasion receded.
But with Washington still insisting that Ukraine decides its security arrangements, Putin didn’t seem impressed with the offer of more talks.
So far, sanctions haven’t stopped Putin from halting the military near Ukraine, and there appears little appetite among Russian-gas dependent European states to introduce punitive measures as winter sets in.
KREMLIN CONDEMNS NATO
The Kremlin said Putin accused NATO of “dangerous attempts to develop Ukrainian territory and increase its potential along our borders.”
He demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand its territory toward Russia or place missile systems in bordering countries, according to statements.
The Putin administration demands that Kyiv abide by the 2015 Minsk agreement.
That peace deal stipulates that Ukraine reforms its constitution and opens direct talks with Russian-backed separatists in the east, both of which are unpopular demands in Kyiv.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.
Moscow has denied supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine beyond political support, an assertion questioned by international diplomats.
More than 14,000 people are believed to have died in the ongoing conflict raging in eastern Ukraine in which Ukrainian government forces fight against Russia-backed separatists.
They seek control over much of the two heavily industrialized regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, also known as Donbas.
Fierce battles in 2014-2015 ended with one-third of the regions’ territory, its most urbanized part, ruled by the self-described Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, estimates the International Crisis Group.
With the outcome of the Biden-Putin talks uncertain, more saber-rattling was expected as Russian and Western leaders consider their next moves in diplomatic chess.
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