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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Putin and Biden face-to-face

by New Worker correspondent

VLADIMIR PUTIN and Joe Biden held crisis video link talks this week to break the impasse between Russia and the USA and defuse the crisis in Ukraine. Biden and Putin held their first face-to-face meeting in a summit in Geneva in June and they spoke via phone in July.

The Kremlin gave a detailed account of the talks, stressing their “candid and business-like nature” whilst the White House published a brief statement of five sentences.

Biden voiced his country’s “deep concerns” about the alleged build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine and made clear that the USA and its allies would respond with “strong economic and other measures” if Russian troops crossed the frontier. He also called for “a return to diplomacy”.

In response, Putin rejected attempts to shift the responsibility for the escalation of the situation around Ukraine onto Russia. The Russians want secure, legally fixed guarantees that would exclude NATO’s eastwards expansion and deployment of its offensive weapons systems in Russia’s neighbouring countries.

Biden, in turn, said that he would confer with NATO about the possibility of providing guarantees about the bloc’s expansion, a top Kremlin advisor has claimed.

Although Ukraine dominated the video summit on Tuesday the presidents of the two super-powers also discussed the implementation of the decisions of their earlier talks in Geneva, cybersecurity and bilateral issues, including the functioning of diplomatic missions. But the focus of the two hours of talks was on Ukraine and imperialist claims that Russia was mobilising for a large-scale invasion of the country, which is a satellite of the USA.

The imperialist leader talked about the allegedly threatening movements of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine and outlined possible sanctions the USA and its allies would be ready to impose in case of further escalation.

But these manoeuvres were taking place 185 miles from the Ukrainian frontier – and the so-called Russian build-up is largely the creation of the puppet regime in Kiev that has conjured up the ‘Russian threat’ to boost its bid to join NATO.

But the Russian scare story was also used by the hawks in Washington to step up pressure on the German government to block the Nord Stream pipeline that will carry Russian natural gas to Europe.

American efforts have been loyally supported by Britain. At a meeting of senior Western diplomats in the Ukrainian capital last month, emissaries from Washington and London have tried to sow panic by continuing to manipulate false reports of Russia’s impending full-scale invasion. They persistently demanded support from their European allies to provide alternative energy supplies to Ukraine and pump billions into the failed state to prop up its ailing economy.

But this pressure has, so far, failed to force the new social-democratic-led German coalition into freezing the Nord Stream project, which was completed in September and now only awaits an operating licence to start pumping.

The talks, of course, were secret, and only time can tell whether any real progress towards rapprochement has been made. It was nevertheless curious to note that both leaders expressed hope that the future talks on Iran’s nuclear deal, which broke down in Vienna last week, will be constructive and pave the way for solutions acceptable for everyone. The imperialist powers have, indeed, decided to return to the negotiating table this week – some say through Russian mediation.