Biden-Putin summit conditional on Russia not invading Ukraine - Psaki
US President Joe Biden has agreed "in principle" to a summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin, although officials on both sides have tempered hopes of a such meeting.
US President Joe Biden could be set for a summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis, although Russia says it is “premature” to talk of concrete plans for a meeting between the pair.
On Sunday evening, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that Biden and Putin had both “accepted the principle” of a meeting brokered by Macron.
Kremlin, US officials dampen hopes of Biden-Putin summit
However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday, per AP: “It’s premature to talk about specific plans for a summit.” Peskov added: “The meeting is possible if the leaders consider it feasible."
Senior Biden administration officials quoted by AFP have also spoken of their scepticism that a Biden-Putin summit will happen, commenting: “Timing to be determined, format to be determined, so it’s all completely notional.”
Psaki: Summit will only happen if Russia hasn't invaded Ukraine
On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden has tentatively agreed to sit down with Putin - a meeting which, a French presidential adviser told Reuters on Monday, the US president had asked Macron to propose to the Russian leader.
In a statement, Psaki said a summit will only take place if Russia has not invaded Ukraine, warning the Russians that they face “severe consequences” if they do attack their neighbouring country.
And in the latest US warning that an invasion appears to be imminent, she cautioned that a “full-scale” Russian assault on Ukraine may happen “very soon”.
“As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins,” Psaki said.
“Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action.
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.
“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.
"And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”
Ukraine: "Everything should happen with our participation"
Ukraine has welcomed a possible Biden-Putin summit, but the head of the country’s National Security and Defence Council, Oleskiy Danilov, says a solution to the crisis cannot be reached without Kyiv's involvement.
"No one can resolve our issue without us," Danilov told reporters, per Reuters. "Everything should happen with our participation."