14.Apr .2021 16:30

Russia to consider Biden plan for Putin summit

Russia to consider Biden plan for Putin summit
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Hours after US President Joe Biden proposed a summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has said it will study the idea.
 
"It is early to talk about this meeting in terms of specifics," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
 
Mr Biden made the proposal on the phone with Mr Putin, raising concerns about Russia's troop build-up on Ukraine's borders, the White House said.
 
 
The phone-call late on Tuesday was only the second conversation that President Biden has had with Russia's leader since he took office in January. Moscow recalled its ambassador for consultations last month after Mr Biden said he considered President Putin to be a "killer".
 
Mr Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, met Mr Putin in Finland in 2018 and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has reportedly offered to host a new summit.
 
Mr Niinisto's office said in a statement that he had a long call with the Russian leader on Tuesday evening and expressed concern about the troop build-up.
 
Mr Peskov said on Wednesday that "without doubt bilateral ties are important".
 
How significant is the troop build-up?
 
The US and European leaders have watched Russian military movements with increasing alarm. Ukraine's presidential spokeswoman, Yulia Mendel, said this week that Russia now had some 40,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine and a further 42,000 in Crimea, which was seized and then annexed by Russia in 2014.
 
Russian-backed separatists then took control of parts of eastern Ukraine in a conflict in which some 14,000 people have died, and clashes have flared up in recent weeks.
 
Until now Moscow has spoken of its troop movements as an internal affair, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday they were part of a three-week drill to test combat readiness. He accused Nato of moving troops near Russia's borders, which the Western military alliance has denied.
 
How has Nato responded?
 
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for an end to the "unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning" military build-up, after talks in Brussels on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as well as Ukraine's foreign minister. Ukraine is not part of Nato but its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is keen to join.
 
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called on Russia to end "provocations" and de-escalate tensions.
 
Ukraine's military said it was conducting exercises near the Crimean peninsula in case of a Russian attack and the US is sending two warships to the Black Sea, which has prompted Russia's navy to move some of its fleet there from the Caspian Sea.
 
In a separate development, the Kremlin said Mr Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, had warned the US ambassador over any "unfriendly steps" Washington might take, such as imposing further sanctions.