US President Joe Biden has agreed “in principle” to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deter him over a possible invasion of Ukraine.
The talks which were proposed by French President, Emmanuel Macron will only take place if Russia does not invade its neighbour, the White House has announced.
The crises between Ukraine and it’s more wealthier stronger neighbor Russia has failed to get any diplomatic solution and could be one of the worst security crises in Europe since the second world war.
The meeting between Biden and Russia comes after US officials said intelligence suggests Russia is ready to launch a military operation after amassing close to 190,000 soldiers on its southern, northern and eastern borders with Ukraine.
Satellite imagery showing Russian troop deployment
The proposal was announced by the French President after two phone calls between Emmanuel Macron and Putin, which went on for almost three hours.
The calls happened in the early hours of Monday, and followed a 15-minute conversation between Macron and Biden.
Macron’s office said details of the possible summit would be discussed during a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday this week.
In a statement that confirmed the proposal, the White House also said Russia appeared to be “continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon”, and that the US was ready to impose “swift and severe consequences” should it happen.
Putin agreed on the need to “prioritise a diplomatic solution” to the crisis, according to the French presidency. It said “intense work” would be carried out to enable a meeting “in the next few hours” aiming for a ceasefire.
The Kremlin said Putin blamed the Ukrainian military for the escalation of tensions, allegations Ukraine has rejected, saying Moscow is engaged in a provocation campaign towards Ukrainian soldiers aimed at creating a pretext for an intervention.
But Macron said both leaders agreed to resume talks through the Normandy Format, a group created to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine that includes Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
On Sunday, Russia announced the extension of military drills in Belarus, where 30,000 Russian troops are deployed, that were due to end on Sunday. A Belarusian statement blamed the “deterioration of the situation” in eastern Ukraine as one reason for extending the exercises.
Speaking on CNN, Secretary Blinken said “everything we are seeing suggests that this is dead serious” and that “we are on the brink of an invasion”.
“Until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from carrying this forward,” he added.