Biden reportedly agrees to ‘principle’ of high-level summit with Putin over Ukraine situation

President Joe Biden is not a particularly effective negotiator, as evidenced by his failure to shepherd his legislative agenda through Congress, but those shortcomings are not confined to the domestic sphere.

On Sunday, it was revealed that Biden had agreed to “the principle” of a face-to-face summit with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has been engaged in a rhetorical standoff over the tense territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine, Fox News reported.

That apparent concession to Putin of a legitimacy-granting emergency summit may well have been already rendered moot, however, as Russian actions the very next day after that announcement threatened to undermine and end any perceived justifications for the high-level meeting.

France arranges summit between Biden and Putin

According to a press release from France, it appears that French President Emmanuel Macron was the driving force behind arranging an emergency summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, the details of which would be finalized Thursday in a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The release asserted that Biden and Putin “have both accepted the principle of such a summit,” albeit on one major condition — “that Russia does not invade Ukraine.”

Shortly after that announcement from France, White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement confirming that Biden was “committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins.”

She made note of the imminent meeting between Blinken and Lavrov, “provided Russia does not proceed with military action,” and said, “President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.”

“We are always ready for diplomacy,” Psaki added. “We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”

Meeting could already be scuttled

Yet, those arrangements announced Sunday may have already been made pointless by Monday, as according to The Washington Post, Putin formally recognized the supposed sovereign independence of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, two Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that have fought the Ukraine government in Kyiv since 2014.

In response, President Biden immediately issued harsh economic sanctions against the Russian-allied separatist regions, a move that some in the media suspected was an indication that the to-be-arranged meeting between himself and Putin was now off.

In a background press call with an unnamed “senior administration official” Monday night, that was among the questions asked — whether the meeting was still on or not — but the official declined to say one way or the other with any certainty.

Speaking of the necessary “predicates” for the meeting to occur, the official said the most “critical” was that “Russia does not take further military action inside Ukraine.” As such, the White House would further “assess” the situation, and added, “And so, certainly can’t commit to a meeting that has as a predicate that Russia won’t take military action when it looks as imminently like they will.”

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