Biden and Putin accept Macron’s proposal
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden have both agreed in principle to hold a meeting to halt the escalation of conflict in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said in a statement on Sunday night.
Emmanuel Macron “proposed a summit to be held between President Biden and President Putin and then with relevant stakeholders to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe,” according to the statement.
“Presidents Biden and Putin have both accepted the principle of such a summit,” it added.
However, the meeting “can only be held at the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine,” the Elysee palace added. The substance of the summit, should it take place, will be prepared by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during their meeting expected on Thursday, February 24.
While the Kremlin has yet to issue a comment, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Biden “accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following [Blinken-Lavrov] engagement, again, if an invasion hasn't happened.”
The French president briefed his US counterpart on Sunday evening on his talks with Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a call that reportedly lasted only 15 minutes.
In a call with Putin earlier on Sunday, Macron offered to mediate talks in the Normandy Format “in the next few hours” to secure a ceasefire along the line of contact in the disputed region of Donbass in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin confirmed that “the two leaders agreed to maintain contact at various levels,” but did not provide any specific details.
Macron also spoke with Zelensky, who allegedly “confirmed his determination not to react to provocations and to respect the ceasefire,” according to the Elysee Palace.
Biden claimed on Friday that US intelligence gave him reason to believe Putin had made the decision to invade Ukraine in the next several days. Moscow has repeatedly denied having any plans to attack Ukraine and called the accusations “fake news.”