Putin ‘Outlines’ to Biden Vague ‘Approaches’ to Political Settlement of Donbass War in Ukraine
In his call with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has “outlined approaches to a political settlement” of the ongoing Donbass War in Eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin press serviced announced in a release.
The White House was the first to reveal on Tuesday that the leaders of the United States and Russia, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, had had a telephone call. Its announcement made it clear that it had been focused on the present reported Russian military buildup around Ukraine’s borders and the escalation of the Donbass War in Ukraine which has been raging on since 2014.
In its statement on the call with Putin, the White House said Biden had proposed a bilateral American – Russian summit meeting “in a third country.”
Relations between the United States and Russia on the highest level have been especially tense since in mid-March 2021, the new US President Joe Biden stated in a TV interview he believed Russian leader Putin was a “killer”. The comment lead Moscow to recall its ambassador to the US.
In its own release on the Biden – Putin call, the press service of the Russian Presidency noted that the Russian leader had presented to his US counterpart approaches for the political settlement of what it referred to the “internal Ukrainian crisis”, instead of a full-fledged war between the Ukrainian state and the pro-Russian insurgents.
The Kremlin’s wording, however, remained vague, as it did not specify what exactly Putin had said, or had had in mind.
Instead, the Russian Presidency only stated that the approaches in question would be based on the Minsk Agreements. The Minsk Protocol and the Minsk II Agreements, drawn in September 2014 and February 2015, respectively, under the so called Normandy Format (or Normandy Four), including Russia and Ukraine but also Germany and France, however, are mostly focused on ceasefire measure to halt the active fighting, rather than on achieving a permanent settlement and a lasting peace.
“When exchanging views on the internal Ukrainian crisis, Vladimir Putin outlined approaches to a political settlement based on the Minsk Package of Measures,” reads the Kremlin release’s single sentence on the Ukraine War and its discussion by Putin and Biden over the phone on Tuesday.
The Kremlin press service also says that “the current state of Russia-US relations and certain pressing items on the international agenda were discussed in detail.”
It added that Biden had confirmed a prior invitation to the President of Russia to take part in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22–23, 2021.
“Both presidents expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue on the critical areas of ensuring global security, which would meet the interests not only of Russia and the United States, but the entire international community,” the Kremlin said.
It further added that “Joseph Biden expressed interest in normalizing the state of affairs on the bilateral track and establishing stable and predictable interaction on pressing matters such as ensuring strategic stability and arms control, Iran’s nuclear program, the situation in Afghanistan, and global climate change.”
“In this context, the US President suggested considering the possibility of holding a personal summit meeting in the foreseeable future,” the Kremlin concluded on the Biden – Putin telephone conversation over the perceived escalation of the Ukrainian War crisis.
Russian state-run news agency Tass reminds that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted earlier that movement of Russian troops inside their own country should not raise concerns in other states.
Peskov reiterated previous statements from Moscow that the Russian troop movements in question did not threaten any states in any way, and insisted that Russian troops had never taken part in the Donbass conflict which was exclusively a domestic Ukrainian affair.
On Monday, a Russian analyst forecast that the United States would not intervene militarily in a flare-up of the Donbass War in Ukraine but would likely stage “provocations” against Russia’s ownership of the Crimean Peninsula.
In the past few days, Ukraine has alarmed the West about what it says is a giant military buildup by Russia on Ukrainian border near Donbass and in the Crimean Peninsula. The buildup of Russian forces has been seen as deeply worrying in the West and has caused fears of a full-fledged Russian military incursion in Ukraine.
In the winter of 2013-2014, the Euromaidan Revolution in Kiev ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, and promised to bring Ukraine closer to the West, including through EU and N ATO membership.
In response, led by President Vladimir Putin, in February – March 2014, Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea, and then declared itself part of its territory after holding a referendum.
The Russian Federation, alongside the United States and Britain, was supposed to be a guarantor of Ukraine’s territorial integrity under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in exchange for Ukraine’s giving up of the nuclear weapon stockpile it had inherited from the former Soviet Union.
However, Russian leader Putin has rejected accusations that Moscow had violated the Budapest Memorandum by seizing Crimea from Ukraine. Instead, he has argued that it had been the West, respectively the US and the UK, who had violated the memorandum first by carrying out a “regime change” coup in Kyiv. Moscow has made it clear it perceived the Euromaidan Revolution in Ukraine as a plot of Western intelligence services, rather than the result of a popular protest uprising.
Shortly after Russia’s seizure of Crimea, a pro-Russian insurgency likely supported by Moscow began in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine.
Since then, the war in Ukraine has claimed some 14,000 lives, according to conservative estimates, and has displaced millions of people.
The US, the EU, and other Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia over both the annexation of the Crimea and the insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbass which the West deems to be instigated and supported by Moscow.
Ivan Dikov, the founder of HeartlandHinterland.com, is the author of the book “Madman Diplomacy: Is North Korea Trying to Bring Back Regime Change?“, among other books.