White House says Biden has no plans to meet with Putin amid escalation in Donbas

23 February 2022, 02:15 PM

U.S. President Joe Biden has no plans to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fresh Russian military escalation in the Donbas region, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Feb. 22.

According to Psaki, diplomacy can’t succeed unless Russia changes course.

She added that a previously-planned meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, scheduled for Feb. 24, had also been cancelled.

“And as he (Blinken) said, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to have a meeting with his counterpart at this point in time – Foreign Minister Lavrov,” Psaki said.

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“And it was always intended that any engagement with President Putin would follow that. So, at this point, that is certainly not in the plans.”

When asked what it would take to get that conversation back to the table to reconsider a meeting between the two leaders, Psaki said: “De-escalation.”

On Feb. 21, Psaki said that U.S. President Biden had “in principle” accepted another meeting with his Russian counterpart, if a further invasion of Ukraine didn’t happen by that time.

But on Feb. 22, Blinken announced that he had cancelled the meeting with Lavrov after Russian President Vladimir Putin had recognized the independence of the non-government-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region, and immediately ordered Russian troops into Ukrainian territory on a self-proclaimed “peacekeeping” mission – representing a Russian withdrawal from the Minsk Agreement peace process.

The move came after a months-long military build-up of Russian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Following Russia’s actions, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sent a request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to sever diplomatic relations with Russia.

Ukraine and the international community have condemned the Kremlin’s decision, while the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union announced initial sanctions in response to Russia’s violation of international law.

On Feb. 22, Russia’s Federation Council green lighted the deployment of Russian military forces abroad.

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