Biden, Zelensky discuss upcoming security talks with Russia, White House says


WASHINGTON, January 3. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden held a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky on Sunday discussing the upcoming talks with Russia on security guarantees, the White House press service reported following the conversation.

“The leaders expressed support for diplomatic efforts, starting next week with the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue, at NATO through the NATO-Russia Council, and at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. President Biden underscored the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to the principle of ‘nothing about you without you’,” the press service noted.

The US leader also told Zelensky that the US supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.” Additionally, Biden expressed support for confidence-building measures to de-escalate tensions in Donbass and “active diplomacy to advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in support of the Normandy Format.”

Several days prior to this, overnight on December 31, Biden held a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The conversation lasted 50 minutes. Kremlin Aide Yury Ushakov told journalists that the Kremlin was satisfied with the conversation which generally was constructive. According to him, the upcoming talks on security guarantees were the main subject and both leaders agreed to control them personally and maintain phone contacts.

On January 10, Geneva will host Russian-US talks on security guarantees. On January 12, Russia will discuss its concerns in the security sphere in Europe as well as the Russian projects on security guarantees at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels and on January 13 – at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. On December 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry published the draft agreements between Moscow and Washington on security guarantees and the measures of ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states. These drafts were submitted to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried on December 15.

Lately, in the West and Ukraine, the claims of an alleged possible Russian “invasion” into Ukrainian territory are being touted increasingly more often. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded such information as the empty and groundless escalation of tension, emphasizing that Russia does not represent a threat to anyone. That said, he didn’t exclude the possibility of provocations being whipped up in order to justify such claims and warned that attempts to resolve the problem in southeastern Ukraine through the use of force would have the most serious consequences.