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Ukraine: Biden wields harsh sanctions, Putin demands guarantees

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The two-hour interview was useful, according to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and frank and professional, according to the Kremlin, a vocabulary that does not exude excessive heat.

Joe Biden did not promises or concessions in the face of demands from Vladimir Putin, who in particular would like NATO to close its door to Ukraine, Mr Sullivan said on Tuesday.

As if to better illustrate the seriousness of the stakes, the American president has led the meeting since the Situation Room, this ultra-secure crisis room of the White House, from where the United States is launching its most sensitive actions.

The Russian president, who answered him from his residence in Sochi, a seaside resort on the Black Sea, demanded secure legal guarantees excluding NATO enlargement to the east, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

This sounds like a dialogue of the deaf, as the United States, NATO and Kiev accuse Moscow of massing troops on the border with Ukraine in order to attack the country.

Russian soldiers are on their territory, they are not threatening anyone, the president [Poutine] said it, however assured the diplomatic adviser of the Kremlin, Yuri Ushakov.

For Washington, the scenario is reminiscent of 2014 and the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula, then the outbreak in eastern Ukraine of an armed conflict which left more than 13,000 dead. Corn the things we didn’t do in 2014, we’re ready to do them today, said Jake Sullivan.

Washington promises, in the event of an attack, to increase its military support to Ukraine, to strengthen its abilities with its NATO allies in Eastern Europe and, above all, to impose much harsher economic sanctions than those piled up on Russia, to little effect, after 2014.

Nord Stream 2 in Washington’s sights

Miserly in detail, the United States, however, waved a red rag: that of the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, by which Russia, very dependent on its exports of hydrocarbons, wants to double its deliveries of natural gas to Germany.

Noting that this pipeline is not yet in operation, Jake Sullivan said: If Vladimir Putin wants the future Nord Stream 2 to carry gas, he may not take the risk of invading Ukraine. So here is a the sink available to Westerners, he added.

On condition of meticulously coordinating any sanction with the Europeans, and in particular with Germany, where the famous submarine pipeline ends. Joe Biden had given up in the spring to block the project, precisely to preserve his relationship with Berlin.

Report to allies

The American president also telephoned, once his virtual summit ended, to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Ministers Mario Draghi and British Boris Johnson. All repeated their attachment to territorial integrity from Ukraine and promised to stay closely in touch, according to the White House.

Joe Biden will call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

The American president takes a luxury of precautions, vis-a-vis allies scalded among other things by a withdrawal from Afghanistan carried out, according to them, in a way too unilateral.

Iran, ransomware and diplomatic restrictions

If we are far from the relationship stable and predictable that Joe Biden said so far to seek with Russia, Vladimir Poutine however proposed to his American counterpart to put an end to a side dispute: that of the retaliatory measures targeting the diplomatic missions of their two countries taken in recent months.

The Russian side offered to wipe out all accumulated restrictions on the functioning of diplomatic missions, which could help normalize other aspects of bilateral relations., the Kremlin said in a statement.

Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden also spoke on Tuesday about cybersecurity and their joint work on regional topics such as Iran, according to the United States.

Washington accuses Moscow of turning a blind eye to major ransomware attacks against US companies this summer, carried out from within its territory.

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