Putin warns Biden of full diplomatic break if new sanctions are imposed by West
The introduction of massive Western sanctions against Russia could lead to a full diplomatic rupture between the Kremlin and Washington, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during talks by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden on Dec. 30.
Putin said this after Biden reaffirmed that the United States and its allies would impose damaging sanctions if Moscow escalates its aggression against its neighbor Ukraine, Kremlin-controlled news agency TASS reported, quoting Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.
“Our president immediately responded to that by saying that if the West goes ahead to introduce the abovementioned unprecedented sanctions, then all that could cause a total severance of relations between our countries,” Ushakov said.
“And very serious damage will be done to Russia’s relations with the West in general,” he said.
In turn, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said following the call that Biden had “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”
Putin also said future generations would regard the imposition of fresh sanctions by the West as a mistake.
“A lot of such mistakes have been made in the past 30 years, and it’s preferable in this situation that they aren’t repeated,” Ushakov quoted Putin as saying.
The Biden-Putin talks took place on Dec. 30 and lasted about an hour.
The U.S. president said that the West’s relations with Russia would depend primarily on the Kremlin’s actions.
Earlier, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told CBS News on Dec. 21 that “(the United States is) prepared to issue sanctions like you’ve not seen before” if Russia invades Ukraine.
Since late October, Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border.
As of early December, about 100,000 Russian soldiers were deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.
According to a report released by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) on Dec. 30, “during the past month, troops and/or vehicles were being transferred more actively into regions to the northeast of Ukraine.” The Kremlin says the troop movements are an internal affair of the Russian Federation.
At the same time, Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning “provocations,” and alleged that Kyiv plans to regain control of the occupied territories by military means. The Kremlin has failed to back up any of its allegations with evidence, however.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation, and in recent weeks have held meetings at various levels to discuss possible ways to counter Russian aggression.
Although the Kremlin denies that it plans to invade Ukraine, Putin in a Dec. 7 video call with Biden raised the issue of “security guarantees” for Russia.
Later, on Dec. 17, Russia issued a formal list of demands, including that Ukraine be banned from joining NATO and that the alliance not expand further to the east.
Russia also demanded that the United States stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, withdraw its military advisers and instructors from the territory of Ukraine, and not take part in military exercises with Ukrainian forces.
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