Biden, Putin agree in principle to meet — if Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine
President Joe Biden has agreed in principle to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukraine crisis – as long as Russia doesn’t attack its neighboring country.
The potential summit would follow a planned Thursday meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov – which will also only occur without a Russian invasion of Ukraine, officials said.
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a Sunday night statement.
“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war,” Psaki said.
The press secretary also reiterated the belief that Russia is on the brink of launching an attack.
“Currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon,” she said.
Biden last Friday said he was “convinced” that Putin had decided to invade Ukraine “in the coming days.
The president made the declaration after the US obtained intelligence that Russian commanders have received their orders and are making specific plans on how to carry out an invasion, CBS News reported.
News of the potential meeting between Biden and Putin came as it was revealed that the US received credible intelligence that Russia plans to carry out disturbing human rights abuses in the aftermath of an invasion of Ukraine.
Details of Moscow’s purported post-attack plan were included in a letter from Bathsheba Crocker, the US ambassador to the United Nations to the UN human rights chief.
“We have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation,” read the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.
Crocker said the unspecified intelligence “indicates that human rights violations and abuses in the aftermath of a further invasion are being planned” by Russia.
“These acts, which in past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, unjust detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions,” the letter said.
Other groups that would be targeted by Russia include dissidents living in Ukraine, anti-corruption activists, journalists and “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons,” Crocker wrote.