Putin told Biden his ideas do not tackle main Russian concerns

2 minute read

Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden (not pictured) at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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MOSCOW, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Russian leader Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Joe Biden that Moscow would review ideas he laid out to address Russia's security demands in a phone call on Saturday, but that they still did not tackle Moscow's key concerns, the Kremlin said.

Biden and Putin spoke by phone amid high tension over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine that has fuelled fears of a looming invasion. Russia has repeatedly denied any such plans.

In a briefing with reporters, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov described the call as business-like, but said it had taken place against a backdrop of "hysteria" in the West about a looming Russian invasion that he said was absurd.

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Ushakov said Biden had asked for the call to take place on Saturday as a result of the rising hysteria.

"Biden predictably mentioned possible tough anti-Russian sanctions in the context of the tense situation around Ukraine, but that was not the focus of his rather lengthy conversation with the Russian leader," Ushakov said.

He said Biden laid out a number of considerations to address the array of security demands that Russia made of the West late last year, including a veto on Ukraine ever joining NATO.

"I will immediately note that the Russian president reacted in the spirit that the Russian side would carefully analyse the considerations expressed by Biden and would undoubtedly take them into account,"

"But unfortunately, and this was said, these considerations do not touch upon the central, key elements of Russian initiatives," the Kremlin official said.

Ushakov said Biden's ideas largely repeated the ideas set out in the U.S. and NATO counter-proposals to Russia's security demands that were handed over on Jan. 26.

He said Russia had practically finished drawing up its response to those counterproposals and would announce them soon.

Putin told Biden he thought the West was not putting enough pressure on Ukraine to implement the Minsk peace agreements on the conflict in east Ukraine, Ushakov said.

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Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Angus MacSwan

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