US President Joe Biden has agreed “in principle” to hold a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
But this can only happen as long as Russia does not invade Ukraine, according to the White House.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened,” she added.
Psaki said that as the President has repeatedly made clear, Washington is committed to pursuing diplomacy “until the moment an invasion begins”.
“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war”.
According to the Biden administration’s assessment, currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale attack on Ukraine very soon.
On Sunday, Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the latest developments regarding Russia’s military buildup on the borders of Ukraine.
He also discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron about ongoing diplomacy and deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s military buildup.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the UN sent a letter to UN human rights Chief Michelle Bachelet alleging that Russian forces are creating lists of Ukrainians to be killed or sent to detention camps following a military invasion.
Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker, U.S. Representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, said that the United States is gravely concerned that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and create a human rights catastrophe.
Russian forces would likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons, the letter says.
Crocker added that the Washington also has credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations. The Kremlin dismissed the allegation, based on U.S. intelligence reports, as an “absolute lie”.
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