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14th Apr 2021

Biden warns Putin he will ‘act firmly’ if he does not de-escalate Ukraine tensions

Danny Jones

The calls from the US President come after Russian troops have been gathering around Ukraine’s borders since March

US President, Joe Biden, is looking to defuse tensions and deter further action from Vladimir Putin, after the Russian leader ordered numerous detachments of his armed forces to line the border with Ukraine in the past month.

In short, during a phone call on Tuesday April 14, Biden warned Putin that America will “act firmly in defence of its national interests”. According to an official White House press statement, Biden also “emphasised the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Russian military personnel have been deployed to the Russian border and the Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. Clearly, relations between the two countries are fractious and the fear of an all-out conflict is not only a real concern but a long-standing one; this is the largest assembly of armed forces along the Russia-Ukraine border and in the Crimean region since the expropriation.

As shared by Janes Intel Groups’ Tom Bullock, you can see the build-up of what is believed to be a further 14,000 troops en route to the border and Crimea – both of which now have around 40,000 Russian soldiers stationed there:

Kremlin Press Secretary and Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has downplayed suspicions, stating that the military movements were an “internal affair”; however, he also accused Ukraine of staging “provocations” of their own.

The government has been clashing with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since the annex. Despite agreeing on a ceasefire last year, both sides blame each other for hostilities and, according to Peskov, any interference from NATO would see Russia “forced to respond”.

NATO has similarly urged Russia to de-escalate and while Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Kuleba Dmytro, was in attendance at the press conference, he maintained that country’s stance is one of peace, he stated that they need “direct support, aimed at strengthening defence capabilities” as Russia continues “drastically intensifying its belligerent propaganda”.

With the temperature rising between the two, Biden is also believed to have called for a summit between the two nations, as American and Russian relations have also been called into question since the 2016 election. This would be the first meeting between the recently appointed president and Putin since Biden labelled him “a killer” with “no soul” – to which Putin responded, “take’s one to known one”.

It is unclear whether this meeting will go ahead or whether the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, would be part of the negotiations. Ukraine has ruled out any offensive against pro-Russian separatists and has only called on NATO for further protection. 26 Ukrainian soldiers have already been killed since the start of the year, with more than 13,000 deaths since 2014.

Biden’s call looks to have been in hopes of preventing further bloodshed and an outright conflict, rather than achieving any real kind of diplomacy between the US and Russia. The White House Press Secretary stated that “what we’re working toward is predictable and stable. We’re not looking for an establishment of trust as much as a predictability and stability”.