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Psaki Says She Doesn’t Know What Biden Was Talking About When He Announced NATO-Russia Meeting

© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIAWhite House Press Secretary Jen Psaki delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
The US president announced Wednesday that the US and several of its NATO allies would meet with Russian officials to discuss ways to bring “down the temperature along the eastern front.” On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it wasn’t informed about any proposed new NATO-Russia discussions.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki could not explain what her boss Joe Biden was talking about when he announced a new meeting between senior officials from the US, Russia and Washington’s NATO allies to discuss Moscow’s concerns about the alliance.
“I think what the president was referring to is a range of discussions and engagements that we’re continuing to have today: the [Bucharest Nine eastern NATO allies], as an example of that; obviously there are a number of NATO partners involved there. And, of course, we will – while I have nothing to preview at this point, the president – two presidents tasked their teams to follow up [on their talks Tuesday], and we expect that to continue as well,” Psaki said, speaking to reporters Thursday.
On Wednesday, Biden told reporters outside the White House that he would be announcing by Friday a meeting between officials from Russia and four major NATO allies to “discuss the future of Russia’s concerns relative to NATO writ large,” and to bring “down the temperature along the Eastern Front.” Biden has not elaborated on the plans since then.
Pressed by reporters to elaborate on what the president was talking about, Psaki said that apart from the B9 meeting and Tuesday’s video call between Putin and Biden, she wasn’t aware of any further planned discussions.
“In terms of any other format or forum, there is no current mechanism for that,” she said.
Psaki’s sentiments were echoed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who told reporters Thursday that Moscow does not know what meeting Biden was referring to.
“I know nothing about any such meeting. I did see comments by the US president on this score. I proceed from the assumption that the formats for further talks on the ‘red lines’ our leadership has been talking about for the past few days, and also reliable, legally binding security guarantees for Russia, are subject to further discussion,” Ryabkov said.
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Putin and Biden spoke for two hours by video link on Tuesday, with the crisis in Ukraine said to be a central topic for discussion. The Kremlin said the tone of the discussions was “businesslike.”
Tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine have escalated dramatically in recent weeks amid claims by Western officials and media that Moscow may be preparing to invade its neighbour. Russian officials and media have dismissed the claims as baseless “propaganda,” and expressed concerns that Kiev may be preparing to launch a fresh offensive of its own in Donbass – home to a smoldering armed conflict that broke out in the spring of 2014 several months after a Western-backed coup in Kiev.
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