Over the weekend, it appeared that arrangements had been made to schedule a face-to-face emergency summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the tenuous situation with Ukraine.
Those tentative plans for a meeting are now off, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, following additional provocative actions against Ukraine by Putin, The Hill reported.
Putin on Monday formally recognized two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk, and Luhansk, as independent sovereign republics and promptly deployed additional Russian troops to those Russia-aligned areas that have been in rebellion against the Ukrainian government since 2014.
Giving diplomacy a chance
“As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins,” Psaki had said in a statement Sunday. “Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken and [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action.”
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened,” she continued at that time. “We are always ready for diplomacy.”
“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,” she added.
All proposed meetings are now postponed
Less than a day after that announcement of the tentative high-level meetings between the U.S. and Russia, however, Putin made his move with regard to Donetsk and Luhansk and delivered a speech suggesting his territorial ambitions stretched far beyond those two rebellious regions along the border between Russia and Ukraine.
As such, according to The Hill, Sec. Blinken revealed Tuesday that he had scrapped the meeting with Lavrov that had been scheduled for Thursday, during which details for the proposed summit between Biden and Putin would have been finalized.
Just a short time later, during Tuesday’s press briefing, Psaki made it clear that the presidential summit was also off or at least postponed indefinitely until the situation changed.
Asked about the proposed summit, Psaki said, “Well, we’re never going to completely close the door to diplomacy, and I don’t think the Secretary of State did that either.”
But, she added, “diplomacy can’t succeed unless Russia changes course. And as he said, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to have a meeting with his counterpart at this point in time — Foreign Minister Lavrov. And it was always intended that any engagement with President Putin would follow that.”
Psaki went on to say that while a Biden-Putin meeting “is certainly not in the plans” right now, it could occur in the future if Putin “de-escalates” the situation in Ukraine, such as pulling troops back from the troubled region.