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Biden proposes a summit in a phone call with Putin as the Russian military builds a Ukraine border

Biden proposes a summit in a phone call with Putin

April 15, 2021: -On Tuesday, President Joe Biden proposed a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call between the two leaders, the White House said. Biden proposed holding the summit “in the coming months,” said a readout of the call provided by the administration.

At least the second between the two men since Biden took office in January, the call comes as the United States and other western countries grow weary of Russia’s budding troop presence along its border with Ukraine. In a summary of the conversation, the White House said the two discussed “several regional and global issues.”

Biden proposed holding a summit somewhere outside the U.S. and Russia “to discuss the full range of issues facing” the countries. The readout did not indicate whether Putin agreed to the summit or how he received the proposal. The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment.

Other topics broached during the conversation included Russia’s alleged interference in American elections and cyberattacks on U.S. institutions. Biden also raised concerns about the recent Russian military build-up near Ukraine and Crimea, which Russia claims as its own and the U.S. and Ukraine view as occupied territory.

“President Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said.

There is no mention in the White House readout of any discussion of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Navalny’s representatives have said the Putin foe, who was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in August, is in failing health.

The Biden administration has alleged that the Russian government was behind the poisoning and sanctioned seven Russian officials last month over the attack. Putin has denied playing a role.

During the first post-inauguration phone call between Biden and Putin, in January, Biden brought up Navalny and “did not hold back,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time.

In recent weeks, Moscow has raised its military presence along the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns in the West of a budding military conflict amid the two neigh boring countries. The Russian Defence Ministry has said it will conduct over 4,000 military drills this month to inspect its forces’ readiness.

Last month, the Ukrainian government said four of its soldiers were killed by Russian shelling in Donbas. Moscow has denied it has forces in eastern Ukraine. Since 2014, Kyiv has been battling Russian-backed separatists in a conflict that has left at least 13,000 people dead, according to U.N. figures.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow would move its forces across Russian territory at its discretion and called the escalating tensions “unprecedented.” He also suggested that Ukraine was on the brink of civil war, threatening Russia’s security.

According to a readout from the Kremlin, Putin accused Ukraine of resuming “dangerous provocative actions” on a call Friday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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