Biden to tell Putin he will face the toughest sanctions yet if he invades Ukraine

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  • Putin, Biden discuss Ukraine amid war fears
  • US considers drastic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine
  • Kremlin says it expects no breakthrough
  • Urges everyone to keep a “cool head”

WASHINGTON / MOSCOW, Dec. 7 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden will tell Russian President Vladimir Putin during a video conference on Tuesday that Russia and its banks could face the toughest economic sanctions to date if they invade Russia. Ukraine, US officials said.

They said the sanctions, which a source said could target Russia’s biggest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert rubles into dollars and other currencies, were designed to deter Putin from using tens of thousands of massed soldiers. near the Ukrainian border to attack its southern neighbor.

The Kremlin, which said ahead of the meeting that it did not expect any breakthrough, denied having such intentions and said its troops’ position was defensive. But he also said he was increasingly annoyed by Western military aid to Ukraine and what he calls the creeping expansion of NATO.

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He also questioned Ukrainian intentions and said he wanted guarantees that Kiev would not use force in an attempt to reclaim territory lost in 2014 to Russian-backed separatists, a scenario Ukraine excluded.

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

Calling on everyone to keep “a cool head,” Peskov said it was vital that Putin and Biden speak out given what he called the extraordinary escalation of tensions in Europe. Read more

The Russian ruble weakened slightly on Tuesday, with some market analysts predicting the talks would ease tensions and others saying the threat of US sanctions had eroded hopes of finding common ground. Read more

Ahead of his first direct talks with Putin since July, Biden discussed the sanctions plan with European allies on Monday, seeking a strong common position in favor of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

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

They called on Russia to defuse tensions and return to diplomacy and said their teams would remain in close contact, including in consultation with NATO allies and EU partners, on a “coordinated approach. and global, ”the White House said.

Biden’s team has identified a set of economic sanctions to be imposed if Russia launches an invasion, a senior official in the Biden administration has said. Read more

A separate source familiar with the situation said targeting Putin’s inner circle had been discussed but no decision had been made. Sanctions against Russia’s biggest banks and limiting the conversion of rubles into dollars and other currencies were also being considered, another source said.

German Gref, managing director of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank (SBER.MM), on Tuesday called the idea “nonsense” and “impossible to execute”.

CNN has signaled that the sanctions could include the extreme step of disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Build Back Better Act and its impact on prescription drug costs during a speech in the East Room of the White House in Washington, United States, December 6, 2021. REUTERS / Leah Millis

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Bloomberg reported that the United States and its European allies are weighing measures targeting the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

The United States could also restrict the ability of investors to buy Russian debt in the secondary market, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The White House declined to comment.

DIPLOMACY

The secure video call, with Biden speaking from the White House situation room, is scheduled to take place around 3:00 p.m. GMT.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it was still not clear whether Putin made the final decision to invade Ukraine.

Ukraine and the NATO powers accuse Russia of building up troops near the border, raising fears of a possible attack. Moscow denies any such plan and accuses Kiev of concentrating its own forces in its east, where Russia-backed separatists control much of Ukrainian territory.

The United States urged the two countries to return to a largely unimplemented set of agreements signed in 2014 and 2015, which aimed to end the war in eastern Ukraine.

“He (Biden) will make it clear that there will be very real costs if Russia chooses to move forward, but he will also indicate that there is an effective diplomatic path,” the senior administration said. Biden to reporters.

The two leaders approach the talks with little room for compromise. L1N2SR1QN

Putin has said he wants legally binding guarantees that NATO will not expand further east and a commitment that certain types of weapons will not be deployed in countries close to Russia, including Ukraine. .

Putin is also expected to raise the possibility of holding another US-Russian summit with Biden. They last met at a summit in June in Geneva.

US General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met virtually all NATO Chiefs of Staff on Monday about “important security developments across Europe.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday accused Russia of deploying additional tanks and sniper teams to the frontline of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Read more

Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014.

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Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Gleb Stolyarov, Dmitry Antonov, Alexander Marrow, Tom Balmforth and Katya Golubkova in Moscow and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Catherine Evans

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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