Kremlin says no firm plan on Vladimir Putin’s summit with Joe Biden over Ukraine

Moscow: Hours after French president Emmanuel Macron informed of a probable meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Kremlin said there were no firm plans for a meeting between the two leaders over the Ukraine crisis.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said a call or meeting between Putin and Biden could be set up at any time, but there were no concrete plans yet for a summit.

The statements came after the French president said the two leaders had agreed on a meeting in principle on a condition that Russia assures the US of not invading Ukraine.

Macron`s office and the White House on the other hand said that the substance of the plan would be worked out by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting planned for Thursday.

The proposed summit, which comes at a time when counter-attacked at checkpoints have intensified between Ukraine and Moscow, is believed to offer a way out of what could turn out to be Europe’s biggest military face-off in decades.

So far, both Washington and Moscow played down hopes of a breakthrough, and satellite imagery appeared to show Russian deployments closer to Ukraine`s border than before.

The US has accused and maintained its claim that Russia is planning to invade its neighbour Ukraine which it had controlled for centuries until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

However, Moscow still denies planning any attack but has demanded sweeping security guarantees, including a promise that Ukraine will never join NATO.

Nerves frayed further when Moscow`s close ally Belarus announced on Sunday that Russia would extend military exercises there.

Russia has tens of thousands of soldiers in Belarus – part of what Washington says is a force now numbering 169,000-190,000 troops in the region, including pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

An adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron told Reuters that Macron had put the summit proposal to Putin at Biden`s request.

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“We`re slowly changing the course of things,” said the adviser, who declined to be named.

The White House said Biden had accepted the meeting “in principle” but only “if an invasion hasn`t happened”.

“We are always ready for diplomacy,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences, should Russia instead choose war.”

Ukraine said it must be included in any decisions aimed at resolving the crisis, and that it had seen warnings online that hackers were preparing to launch cyberattacks on government agencies, banks and the military.

“No one can resolve our issue without us,” top security official Oleksiy Danilov told a briefing.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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