Biden speaks with Putin, suggests summit

Biden urges Putin to ease Ukraine tensions

Biden urges Putin to ease Ukraine tensions

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on Tuesday expressed strong support for Ukraine and warned Russian Federation against pressing ahead with a major troop buildup along the former Soviet republic's eastern border. Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were expected to be present at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels to brief the other 29 allies on Ukraine, as well as on Afghanistan, the diplomats said.

Echoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who met Kuleba earlier, Blinken said Moscow was massing forces in its biggest build-up since 2014, since Moscow annexed Crimea. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv welcomed the support and urged Western countries to make clear to Moscow that it would pay a price for its "aggression".

Asked if Ukraine could repel a Russian invasion, the head of US forces in Europe told USA lawmakers in a hearing on Tuesday that he believed Ukraine could do that "over time".

"President Biden emphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity", the White House said in a statement. "That's particularly important at a time when were seeing, unfortunately, Russian Federation take very provocative actions when it comes to Ukraine".

The two also discussed arms control, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Afghanistan and climate change, according to the Kremlin. "Seeing itself as the Queen of the Seas, the US should realize that the risks of various incidents are very high".

Earlier, at news conference with Kuleba at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters, Stoltenberg said the alliance was united in its "unwavering" support for Ukraine.

Kuleba said Kyiv wanted a diplomatic solution, though he also appealed for further economic sanctions against Moscow and more military assistance to Ukraine. "Russia must end this military buildup in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and de-escalate immediately". "Russia's considerable military buildup is unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning", Stoltenberg said.

Russian Federation in recent weeks has stepped up troop movements near its border with Ukraine.

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Biden said in a March interview that he agreed Putin is a "killer". Moscow, he said, is only now starting to receive information about organizational and other aspects related to the organization of the possible summit.

A special North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting Tuesday on Ukraine would make sure the alliance is not caught unaware, he said.

"At the operational level, we need measures which will deter Russian Federation and which will contain its aggressive intentions", Kuleba said after the NATO-Ukraine Commission met at the alliance headquarters.

Russian Federation sees the United States as its "adversary", a top Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday amid heightened tensions with Washington over the eastern Ukraine conflict. The numbers are likely to grow as the troops keep arriving.

Russian Federation has defended the troops deployment, saying it would be forced to protect the residents of Donbass if Ukraine launches full-scale hostilities against the region.

Kremlin officials charged that Kyiv's actions have threatened Russia's security, warning that Russia may intervene to protect Russian speakers in the east. A summit meeting was proposed.

When asked if the Ukrainian military could blunt a Russian offensive in the eastern part of the country, where Russian-backed militants have been active for the past seven years, Wolters said, "I certainly do over time".

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