White House says Biden agreed to meet Putin “in principle” as long as Russia does not invade Ukraine

The meeting, according to press secretary Jen Psaki, will take place after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met on February 24.

However, in a statement, Psaki appeared to downplay the prospects of an actual meeting given what US officials had said. high probability Could Putin launch an invasion soon? Other US officials have made clear that there are no plans – whether on timing, format or location – for the meeting between the two leaders.

“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose rapid and dangerous consequences if Russia chooses instead war. Currently, it appears that Russia is continuing preparations for a large-scale attack on Ukraine very soon,” Psaki said in a statement. Sunday night.

The proposed summit, according to a statement from the Elysee Palace, was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron during back-to-back phone calls with Biden and Putin on Sunday.

Macron has emerged as a diplomatic mediator as the crisis in Europe unfolds. Putin met earlier this month in Moscow, and spoke with the Russian president by phone twice on Sunday. French officials said his diplomatic efforts reflected a desire to explore every available path to avoid conflict.

The French presidency’s statement said the summit would be followed by a subsequent gathering of “relevant stakeholders to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe”. Macron “will work with all stakeholders to prepare the content of these discussions.”

It did not specify who these stakeholders are.

US officials have consistently said Biden is ready to engage with Putin, even as he prepares for lackluster economic sanctions in the event of another Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“President Biden is ready to engage President Putin at any time and in any form, if that can help prevent war,” he said. Blinken said on Sunday On CNN “State of the Union”.
Biden put a premium on meeting leaders face to face and met Putin in June during a summit in Geneva. The Two more people spoke on the phone last Saturday.

US officials have said that deciphering Putin’s intentions is difficult because he is massing forces along Ukraine’s border. They say he kept his plans hidden even from his top advisers.

A White House official said on Sunday that Blinken and LaRuff would discuss a possible Biden-Putin summit when they meet later this week in Europe, but added a cautionary note about those talks.

“Blinken and Lavrov will discuss further if the invasion has not started by then – in which case it is all over,” the official said.

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