Putin Warns Biden of ‘Complete Rupture’ Over Ukraine


WASHINGTON — President Vladimir V. Putin warned President Biden on Thursday that any financial sanctions imposed on Russia if it had been to take new navy motion towards Ukraine would lead to a “complete rupture” of relations between the 2 nuclear superpowers, a Russian official informed reporters on Thursday night.

A 50-minute telephone name that Mr. Putin requested, and which each side described as businesslike, ended with out readability about Mr. Putin’s intentions. He has massed 100,000 or so troops on the border with Ukraine, and issued calls for for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States to drag again their forces within the area, however apparently has not determined whether or not to order an invasion.

Mr. Biden, for his half, “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” in keeping with a terse White House account of the decision.

American officers declined to debate any of the substance of the dialogue, insisting that, in contrast to the Russians, they might not negotiate in public. But each side gave the impression to be making an attempt to form the diplomatic panorama for talks that may start in Geneva on Jan. 10, after which transfer to Brussels and Vienna later within the week in classes that may embrace NATO allies after which Ukraine itself.

In Moscow, Yuri V. Ushakov, Mr. Putin’s overseas coverage adviser, mentioned the Russian president had conveyed Moscow’s expectation that the upcoming talks would result in “legally formulated guarantees of security” for Russia. He added that the dialog had created a “positive background” for negotiations in January, however that no compromises had been reached.

The dialog on Thursday gave the impression to be half of the maneuvering for benefit as the primary talks method. Mr. Ushakov mentioned Mr. Putin warned that harsh sanctions could be a mistake, and that, as Mr. Ushakov put it, “in this situation, it’s better not to make such mistakes.” But he additionally mentioned that Mr. Biden had noticed greater than as soon as throughout the name that “it’s impossible to win” a nuclear battle — one thing Mr. Biden has typically mentioned in public.

While the tone of the decision was constructive, in keeping with the Kremlin aide, Mr. Putin repeated his claims that Russia felt threatened by an encroaching NATO. He mentioned that Russia would “conduct itself as the United States would behave if offensive weapons were near the United States.”

The Biden administration, just like the Trump administration earlier than it, has offered a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in support to the Ukrainian navy to fund what it characterizes as purely defensive arms, together with anti-tank missiles to repel a threatened Russian invasion. Russia has referred to as these offensive weapons that threaten its personal forces.

An American official, briefing reporters on the situation of anonymity, mentioned the decision “set the sort of tone and tenor for the diplomatic engagements” to return in January. But he declined to “get into the territory of starting to negotiate in public,” saying that “whatever the Russian side has decided is its best tactic and strategy in terms of its public pronouncements, we really believed, based on past precedents, that it is most constructive to have these conversations privately.”

Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin had radically totally different targets going into the decision. By massing troops on the border after which publishing two draft treaties that had echoes of Cold War-era calls for, Mr. Putin created a world disaster and made plain his need to wind again the clock 30 years, to only earlier than the collapse of the Soviet Union. He demanded that Ukraine halt its embrace of the West, that the United States and its allies halt all navy exercise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and that NATO freeze its enlargement to the east and roll again navy deployments close to Russia’s borders.

In Washington and European capitals, most of the proposed treaty language was instantly rejected as an effort to redraw the post-Cold War boundaries of Europe, and, with the menace of invasion, power Ukraine again into Moscow’s orbit.

Yet regardless of Russia’s broken financial system and diminished capabilities, Mr. Putin is dealing from a robust hand: He demonstrated in 2014, with the annexation of Crimea, his willingness to select off Russian-speaking territory. And he’s assured that the United States and its NATO allies won’t commit forces to the duty of pushing again.

But all that was true when the 2 leaders final spoke on Dec. 3. So they entered the second dialog on Thursday amid hypothesis that the Russian chief was feeling out Mr. Biden’s pink traces forward of the formal spherical of talks subsequent month.

A senior administration official informed reporters on Wednesday that the United States evaluation was that Mr. Putin had not determined whether or not to invade Ukraine. But the Biden administration anticipated that Russia must make that call within the subsequent month, within the temporary window forward of the spring thaw in March or April that might make it troublesome to roll heavy tools into Ukraine.

Russia’s overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had aired issues forward of Thursday’s name that the United States would possibly select a tactic of dragging out the talks for so long as potential, tying up diplomats in countless conferences even because it expressed willingness to interact. The U.S. has urged a return to a prolonged diplomatic course of.

But Mr. Lavrov mentioned on Monday that Russia shouldn’t be left in a state of affairs the place “our proposals are tied up in endless discussions, which the West is famous for and which it knows how to do.” It is necessary, he mentioned, that, “there is a result of all these diplomatic efforts.”

He mentioned the Russian authorities remained skeptical that the United States and NATO would really interact on Mr. Putin’s calls for. “We have serious doubts that the key thing in the proposals — the unconditional demand for a halt to NATO’s eastward expansion — won’t fall by the wayside,” he mentioned within the feedback, carried by the Tass information company.

Russia’s calls for are so sweeping that many political analysts view them as untenable, signifying both a bargaining chip for Russia or a justification for battle when its calls for are inevitably rejected. NATO instantly dismissed the central stipulation to ensure a halt to admitting new members.

While the calls for are addressed to the United States and NATO, Russia’s navy menace is geared toward Ukraine. The United States has mentioned Russia has amassed tens of hundreds of troops close to Ukraine’s borders, and that regardless of requires “de-escalation,” the Russians have proven no indicators of leaving and have as a substitute infected the state of affairs.

Still, American officers imagine that Mr. Putin has not but determined to order the invasion — and should still be satisfied to again off. So they’ve made public their plans for excessive financial sanctions if an invasion begins, whereas signaling they’re open to diplomacy.

“A broader challenge of the crisis is Russia pointing a gun at Ukraine’s head while asking the West to make concessions,” mentioned Samuel Charap, a Russian safety analyst on the RAND Corporation. “And that has been the dynamic here.”

Ukrainian officers have been quietly trying to find diplomatic openings of their very own. The authorities in Kyiv has been exploring whether or not negotiations for cease-fires and associated safety issues within the long-simmering battle with Russian-backed separatists in jap Ukraine can dial down the broader tensions, in keeping with a senior U.S. official who briefed journalists in Washington earlier than the presidential telephone name.

“We have had very good discussions with the Ukrainian side in terms of short-term confidence-building measures they have put on the table with the Russian side,” the official mentioned, talking with out attribution beneath phrases set by the Biden White House. “For there to be real progress in these talks for us to get to a place where we have security and stability in Europe, a context of de-escalation rather than escalation will be required.”

In an early signal of success of the Ukrainian initiative, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe brokered a vacation cease-fire alongside the entrance that held for a number of days, although skirmishing alongside the jap Ukrainian trench line resumed lately. Discussions are underway for different such gestures, together with an trade of prisoners between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists.

At the identical time, Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, mentioned in a chat on the Council on Foreign Relations that the movement of arms to Ukraine would proceed, elevating the potential price of an invasion and occupation. In conversations along with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has made clear that whereas Russia would possibly achieve taking up elements of Ukraine, it might pay an enormous human price in making an attempt to occupy it.

Mr. Putin, for his half, has made it identified that he sees offering arms to Ukraine as a menace to Russia and that it should cease.

“The administration’s in a tight spot,” Mr. Charap mentioned. “The Ukrainians are clearly making a lot of requests, and they have a lot of sympathetic ears on the Hill and more broadly in Washington. And there’s the question, if this is imminent, and there’s anything you can do to help, now is the time. On the other hand, we are asking Russia to de-escalate, and they would see this as escalatory.”