Biden, Putin to get on high-stakes video call 


The Biden-Putin call comes amid high tensions over Russia’s bid to invade Ukraine with as many as 175,000 troops, reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, are expected to get on a high-stakes video call on Tuesday, where the leaders are expected to address diplomatic ties over the escalating conflict in Ukraine. According to news agencies, Biden intends to warn Putin that if he orders the Russian forces placed on the border to attack Ukraine, the United States and its European allies may move to cut his country off from the international financial system, called SWIFT, and sanction top Russian banks and many of the president’s closest associates.

The Biden-Putin phone call today is, in many ways, significant for both the future of US-Russia relations as well as for international geopolitics shaping up power relations between two of the most powerful and influential nations in the world.

It is not yet clear exactly how detailed the conversation will be, but people familiar with the matter told the Bloomberg news agency under the condition of anonymity that the consequences of the video meeting today are likely to spill over to the markets and the economy, as the US is already weighing Russia’s ability to convert rubles for dollars and that of investors to buy Russian debt on the secondary market. The most drastic option, of course, would be to bar Russia’s access to the SWIFT financial payments system, but that is likely to wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary citizens.

The Biden-Putin call comes amid high tensions over Russia’s bid to invade Ukraine with as many as 175,000 troops, according to the US intelligence, in the coming year. Although Russia has denied plans to go to war, its president has made it quite clear that he’s willing to invade Ukraine – his forces did so in 2014 – to protect what he sees as “vital national security interests”.

The US, however, does not want to commit its troops to Ukraine just yet, a senior Biden administration official confirmed, adding that attempts are on instead to help Ukraine and send more forces and capabilities to NATO allies bordering Russia.

Biden’s Tuesday call with Putin, which will be the two leaders’ fourth conversation and quite possibly the US president’s highest-stakes leader-to-leader conversation since he took office in January, may now set the course for Ukraine’s ability to remain a fully independent nation. It is also expected to address other issues that the US may have with Russia, including the threat of cyberattacks and continuing disputes over Russia’s provision of energy to Europe.

For Putin, though, the goal is partly the meeting itself: He gains legitimacy and international sway the more he interacts with Biden, demonstrating Russia’s continued prowess on the global stage. It’s a strategy that has worked for him, evidenced by the four conversations he’s had with Biden since January, more than most world leaders.

A key challenge for Biden is one of force posture — he will have to persuade Putin that stepped up economic pressure would bring the sort of pain that previous sanctions regimes haven’t, while essentially conceding that the use of US forces isn’t really on the table.

According to a foreign diplomacy expert cited by the Bloomberg agency, the Putin-Biden video call today is akin to a “Russian roulette, Putin-style” – solely a matter of who blinks first.

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