If Russia does not ease tensions with Ukraine, President Biden once again threatened to impose sanctions on Russia.
Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday that if he agrees to ease tensions with Ukraine, the United States is willing to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over concerns about NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe. More than 100,000 Russian troops have assembled on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
“I made it clear to President Putin that if he-he takes more action to enter Ukraine, we will be severely sanctioned,” Mr. Biden said. “We will work with NATO allies to increase our presence in Europe, for which we must pay a heavy price.”
The day before the President made the above comments, he had a 50-minute phone call with Putin, and neither side had flinched from the escalating deadlock.
Putin warned the president on Thursday in response to his threat of sanctions, saying that the United States would make “serious mistakes.”
Mr. Putin hopes to be assured that any future expansion of NATO must exclude Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc countries, and requires the group to withdraw offensive weapons from countries near Russia.
“We will not let our initiative drown in endless discussions,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the national RIA-Novosti news agency on Friday. “If there is no constructive answer within a reasonable time and the West continues its aggressive route, Russia will have to take all necessary measures to maintain strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our security.”
The Biden administration and NATO allies have made it clear that Russia’s request is impossible.
The United States and Russia are preparing for a series of high-risk negotiations on Ukraine, NATO and European security issues in January.
Biden’s national security team is preparing for the first round of talks scheduled for January 9-10 to discuss the Russian military on the border.
The Geneva talks will be led by senior officials from the U.S. State Department, followed by Russia-NATO Council talks and a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Mr. Biden is scheduled to speak on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodmir Zelensky on Sunday. According to the White House, the two leaders plan to review preparations for upcoming diplomatic contacts.
When asked if he hopes to make more progress in the negotiations after January, Mr. Biden responded with confidence, but did not guarantee.
“We will see,” he said.
• This article is based in part on the Wired Services report.