Biden told Putin that if he invades Ukraine, he will face the toughest sanctions so far Reuters

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© Reuters. File picture: U.S. President Joe Biden gave a speech on the “Better Rebuild Act” and its impact on prescription drug costs in a speech in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2021.Reuters/Leah Millis

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Author: Steve Holland and Andrew Osborne

Washington/Moscow (Reuters)-U.S. officials said that U.S. President Joe Biden will tell Russian President Vladimir Putin in a video conference later on Tuesday that if Russia and its banks invade Ukraine, it may suffer so far. The most severe economic sanctions to date.

They stated that the sanctions are aimed at preventing Putin from using tens of thousands of soldiers assembled near the Ukrainian border to attack its southern neighbors. One source said that the sanctions may target Russia’s largest bank and Moscow’s conversion of rubles into U.S. dollars and other currencies. ability.

The Kremlin stated before the meeting that it did not want any breakthroughs, but denied such intentions and stated that its troops’ posture was defensive.

But Moscow has expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the West’s military assistance to Ukraine. Ukraine has been leaning towards the West since the popular uprising in 2014 overthrew the pro-Russian president, calling it the gradual expansion of NATO.

Moscow also questioned Ukraine’s intentions and expressed its hope to ensure that Kiev would not use force to try to retake the territory taken by Russia-backed separatists in 2014, which Ukraine ruled out.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We are looking for a good and predictable relationship with the United States. Russia has never intended to attack anyone, but we have our concerns and we have our red lines.”

Peskov called on everyone to remain “calm”. He said that given the unusually escalating tensions in Europe, it is vital that Putin and Biden speak.

The Russian ruble weakened slightly on Tuesday, with some market analysts predicting that negotiations will ease tensions, while others said the threat of US sanctions has weakened hope of finding common ground.

Prior to his first direct meeting with Putin since July, Biden discussed sanctions plans with European allies on Monday, seeking a strong joint stance in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

He talked with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The White House stated that they called on Russia to ease tensions and resume diplomacy, and stated that their team will maintain close contact, including consultations with NATO allies and EU partners in a “coordinated and comprehensive manner.”

A senior official in the Biden administration said that Biden’s team has determined that if Russia launches an invasion, it will impose a series of financial penalties.

Another source familiar with the situation said that the inner circle against Putin has been discussed, but no decision has been made. Another source said that it is also considering imposing sanctions on Russia’s largest bank and restricting the exchange of rubles into U.S. dollars and other currencies.

On Tuesday, German Gref, CEO of Russia’s highest bank Sberbank, called the idea “nonsense” and “impossible to implement.”

CNN reported that the sanctions could include extreme steps that disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world.

Bloomberg reported that the United States and European allies are weighing measures against Russian direct investment funds. Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that the United States may also restrict investors’ ability to buy Russian bonds in the secondary market.

The White House declined to comment, and the Latvian Foreign Minister said in an interview in London on Tuesday that Moscow needs to know what the “economic price” is before taking action. He said this should be extended to Russia’s $11 billion Beixi 2 natural gas exported to Germany. pipeline.

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The secure video call of Biden’s speech in the White House Situation Room is expected to take place around 1500 GMT.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that it is not clear whether Putin has made the final decision to invade Ukraine.

Ukraine and NATO powers accuse Russia of gathering troops near the border, raising concerns about possible attacks. Moscow denies any such plans and accuses Kiev of gathering its own troops in the east. Russia-backed separatists control most of Ukraine’s territory.

The United States has urged the two countries to return to a series of largely unimplemented agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 aimed at ending the war in eastern Ukraine.

Biden’s senior administration told reporters: “He (Biden) will make it clear that if Russia chooses to move forward, it will pay a very practical price, but he will also make it clear that there is an effective way of moving forward in diplomacy.”

There was little room for compromise when the two leaders started negotiations.

Putin has stated that he hopes to obtain a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not further expand eastward and has promised not to deploy certain types of weapons in countries close to Russia, including Ukraine.

Putin is also expected to increase the possibility of another US-Russian summit with Biden. The last time they met was at the summit in Geneva in June.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with almost all NATO defense ministers on Monday to discuss “major security developments across Europe.”

Britain said on Tuesday that it will use all possible means to stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and is considering providing more defensive support.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of deploying tanks and additional sniper teams to the front lines of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.

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