Kremlin labels ties with US ‘lamentable’ ahead of Biden-Putin call

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The Kremlin on Monday said the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia are “lamentable,” one day before President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to speak on a video call amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Biden and Putin are scheduled to speak on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday, as concerns are rising regarding Russia’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border.

Russia’s military buildup on the border has swelled to some 90,000 troops, a worrying sign to many that Moscow may be preparing to invade the country.

A U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post showed that Russia is planning a military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops near the border that could occur as early as next year.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday said “tension around Ukraine” will be a primary focus of the call between the presidents, in addition to what Russia has referred to as NATO moving closer to its borders.

Security guarantees will also be on the agenda, according to Peskov.

“Of course it [the agenda] is bilateral relations, which remain in quite a lamentable state. And then it’s the questions that loom large on the agenda. Primarily tension around Ukraine, the theme of NATO advancement towards our borders, and President Putin’s initiative about security guarantees,” Peskov said, according to Reuters.

Putin has said he wants Moscow to be legally guaranteed that NATO will not push further east, as well as a vow that specific weapons will not be distributed in countries near Russia, such as Ukraine, according to Reuters.

The Russian president is also expected to float the idea of having another summit with Biden, according to Reuters, after the two leaders and other government officials spoke in Geneva.

Peskov also said Biden and Putin have to review the “understandings” that were made in Geneva.

“They will need to discuss how the understandings they reached in Geneva are being implemented, to review what is being fully implemented, and what needs extra work,” Peskov said, according to Reuters.

Psaki on Friday said the two presidents would discuss “a range of topics” regarding the U.S.-Russia relationship, including strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.

“President Biden will underscore U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Psaki added in a statement.

Tags Biden-Putin call Jen Psaki Joe Biden Russia-U.S. tensions Russia-Ukraine conflict Troop build up Ukraine border Vladimir Putin

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