Russia said it’s making preparations for a conversation between President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Joe Biden, their first since tensions erupted over a big Russian military buildup near Ukraine that’s sparked invasion fears.
There’s no agreement yet on timing, though the Kremlin is hoping for a call before the end of the year, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Biden said that he will likely talk with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy soon.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken may meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm on December 2 or 3 at Organization for Security and Cooperation’s meeting in Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
The U.S. has shared intelligence with European allies that shows a large-scale deployment of Russian troops and artillery that it says could be a prelude for a push into Ukraine early next year. Putin has denied any intention to invade the neighboring country but said the alarm is evidence that his actions had gotten the attention of the U.S. and other NATO members, whom he accused of failing to take Russia’s “red lines” over deepening Ukraine-NATO ties seriously enough.
The friction between the two former Cold War enemies has increased on other fronts, including a spat over diplomatic representation. Russia’s ambassador to Washington said more than 50 diplomats and their family members will have to leave the U.S. by mid-2022. Ryabkov said Russia would retaliate if the U.S. went ahead with that.