Kremlin says no plans for summit with Biden amid Ukraine tensions

Brussels/Moscow/Kiev, Feb 21 (EFE).- The Kremlin on Monday said there were no specific plans for a summit between Russian president Vladimir Putin and US president Joe Biden, amid severe tensions over Ukraine.

The initiative for the summit came on Sunday from French president Emmanuel Macron after speaking to Putin and Biden over the phone. Biden already agreed to hold the summit on the condition that Moscow does not invade Ukraine.

“There are no concrete plans in that regard yet,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the TASS news agency, adding it was “too early” to talk about plans for organizing any summits.

“Surely, we do not rule it out, and if necessary, of course, the presidents of Russia and the United States can at any time decide on contacts either by phone or in person. That will be their decision,” he stressed.

Putin, meanwhile, convened a National Security Council meeting for Monday to address the Ukraine crisis and the military escalation in the Donbas region of the country.

Peskov called the situation there “extremely tense.”

“We see no signs of an easing of tensions so far,” he highlighted

So far, more than 61,000 people have fled Donetsk and Luhansk, two territories in east Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, who have been fighting the Ukrainian army since an uprising in 2014.

Clashes have continued in the area as Kiev authorities said Monday that 14 artillery attacks were launched against Ukrainian positions there.

In turn, Luhansk separatists reported that two people died and three others were injured in alleged attacks by the Ukrainian forces, according to the Interfax news agency.


Earlier on Monday, the European Union’s top diplomat called for urgent diplomatic efforts to avoid a war between Russia and Ukraine

“As many diplomatic tools that one could imagine should be mobilized,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters upon arriving at a meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers to address the Ukraine crisis.

“Summits, meetings at the level of ministers, at the level of leaders, whatever format, whatever way of talking and sitting at the table and trying to avoid war is badly needed and we will support anything that can make diplomatic conversations the best way — the only way — to look for a solution to the crisis,” he added.

Borrell made it clear that the EU would impose sanctions on Moscow if diplomacy fails.

“The work is done. We are ready,” he said, adding he would present the sanctions at an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council “at the right moment.”

“When the moment comes, I will call for an extraordinary meeting, because sanctions are a competence of the Council.”

Meanwhile, chief of the Belarusian General Staff Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich said Monday that Russian troops would return to their barracks from Belarus when the “objective need” arises.

“The Russian Armed Forces will return to their bases only when an ‘objective need’ to do so arises and when we decide to do so. This is purely our internal affair,” he said, according to Belarusian news agency Belta.

Russia and Belarus on Sunday decided to prolong joint military drills, which means that Russian troops will not be pulled out as previously announced.

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