Ukraine tensions: Biden urges diplomacy, threatens sanctions against Russia

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the United States was still pursuing a diplomatic solution to the current standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, meanwhile warning Russia of severe sanctions should it choose to invade its neighbor.

In televised remarks delivered from the White House on the evolving situation on Ukraine’s borders, President Biden said his country was prepared “to engage in diplomacy with Russia and our allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole,” adding that if Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, the West will “respond decisively.” 

President Biden said he agreed with a proposal from the Russian government to continue diplomatic negotiations, adding “we should give diplomacy every chance to succeed.”

He said he told Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during their phone call on Saturday that the United States was willing to “keep pursuing high-level diplomacy” to negotiate “written understandings” with Russia.

The U.S. president claimed that his country had”put on the table concrete ideas to establish security environment in Europe,” referring to a written document the United States submitted to Russia last month to address Moscow’s security concerns. 

The Kremlin has said the U.S. document ignored its main demands, at the centre of which was that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) cannot expand further eastward to include Ukraine as its member. 

President Biden said the United States in its future dialogues with Russia “will not sacrifice basic principles” aimed at advancing the common security of the United States and its allies and partners, a veiled refusal to Russian demand that Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO.

President Putin told a press conference at the conclusion of his meeting with German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, earlier Tuesday that Russia was prepared to discuss with the West “some” of the issues involving banning missile deployment to Europe and restricting military drills on the continent, but these discussions must happen “in complex with the main issues that are of primary importance to us.”

He called Ukraine’s bid to join NATO a major security threat to Russia. 

President Biden warned Russia that an invasion against Ukraine will be met with severe economic sanctions from the United States – including export control measures that will cripple Russia’s key industries.  -Xinhua

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