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Putin, Biden Set to Hold 'Secure' Video Call Amid Ukraine Tensions

© Sputnik / Mikhail Metzel / Go to the mediabankRussian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, left, attend a meeting at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, left, attend a meeting at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.12.2021
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The video call comes against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington over accusations that Russia is building up troops near Ukraine and plans to invade the country. Moscow has repeatedly rejected the claims and underscored that it stands by its right to move the nation's armed forces freely within its own territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden are due to hold a secure video call later on Tuesday to discuss a number of pressing issues related to Moscow-Washington relations, Ukraine, Iran, and NATO.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told reporters that the two presidents will kick off the online talks at 14:00 GMT and that they will not be broadcast live, even though some footage might be uploaded afterwards.
© AP Photo / Alexander ZemlianichenkoRussian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.12.2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Peskov added that Vladimir Putin does not plan to make a statement following what the Kremlin spokesman said would be "a rather protracted and comprehensive video conference".
He also stressed that it will be the first-ever use of a secure video communication line for talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States.

This "allows the presidents to discuss the most pressing topics that require an increased level of confidentiality", Peskov said, adding that such a video link "has so far only been tested in working mode, and has not been used by heads of state".

When asked about Moscow's priorities during the upcoming talks, the Kremlin spokesman pointed out that it is "necessary to discuss how the understandings that were reached in Geneva are being implemented".

According to Peskov, Putin and Biden will focus on bilateral relations, "which continue to remain in a deplorable state".

The two are also expected to talk about NATO's eastward expansion and the situation in Ukraine, with Peskov saying that "Putin does not plan to urge Biden to join the Normandy Four" group of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine because "it's a self-efficient format".
The video conference comes amid growing tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine. The past several weeks have seen Kiev and its Western allies fuel Russian "invasion" fears, as they referred to Russia's alleged military buildup near the Ukrainian border. Moscow has rejected the accusations as absurd, underscoring its right to move the country's troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gesture as they arrive for a meeting at the Harpa Concert Hall, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit, in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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As for the Normandy Four group, it was established in June 2014, when the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine first sat down to discuss how to resolve the military conflict in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region.
Aside from the brewing tensions in Ukraine, the Kremlin said that the sides might also discuss issues of strategic stability and the holding of a summit of the UN Security Council's permanent members.
Other issues that may be on the table include the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, the global oil market, as well as the situation in Syria, Libya, Iran, and Afghanistan.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, for her part, previously confirmed that both presidents "will discuss a range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues".

She said that President Biden "will underscore US concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States' support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine".
Biden himself told reporters earlier this week that he expected a "long discussion" with the Russian president. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in turn, told reporters that POTUS would convey to Putin Washington's desire to have a stable relationship with Moscow.
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Neither Putin nor Biden are expected to hold a press conference following the video call, but Psaki said that she plans a White House news briefing four hours after the beginning of the talks.
The upcoming talks follow the first face-to-face meeting of the two presidents in Geneva in June 2021, when Putin and Biden agreed to return to the previously recalled ambassadors to Moscow and Washington and "launch a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability".
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