US, Russian Presidents to Hold Virtual Summit Tuesday Amid Rising Tensions Over Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a high-stakes virtual summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Tuesday amid a massive buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.
President Biden is expected to make a series of diplomatic overtures to President Putin in an effort to de-escalate the situation, along with clear warnings of likely sanctions if Russian troops invade its smaller neighbor and former Soviet republic.
WATCH: US and Russia leaders to meet
Administration officials say Moscow has launched a massive cyberspace disinformation campaign against Ukraine’s government that echoes Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea. The U.S. intelligence community released a document last week that concluded that Putin is planning to deploy as many 175,000 troops along the Ukrainian border as soon as January as part of a multifront invasion.
Putin is expected to issue an oft-repeated demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO, the seven decade-old military alliance between the United States and the nations of Western Europe, which Biden will likely reject. For his part, Biden is expected to threaten to cut Russia off from SWIFT, the international financial payments system.
The U.S. has provided a vast array of military support to Ukraine, but administration officials say the U.S. will not deploy combat troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion.
Biden hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the White House in September, and assured him that the U.S. was “firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.”
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited troops in the eastern Donetsk region and said his forces were capable of fending off a Russian offensive.