With rising tensions amid the Ukraine crisis, United States President Joe Biden on Sunday, 20 February, agreed to meet with Russian President Vladmr Putin "in principle" if an invasion hasn't happened, the White House has said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised that Biden was ready to talk to Putin and that Washington would seek a diplomatic solution until Russian "tanks are actually rolling," news agency AFP reported.
The development comes after Ukraine and Russia on Sunday, called for intensified diplomatic efforts to prevent an all-out war, while blaming each other for an increase in shelling on the frontline separating Kyiv's forces from Moscow-backed separatists.
Putin Blames NATO for ‘Pumping Weapons’ in Ukraine
After a call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, Russian President Vladmir Putin blamed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for “pumping modern weapons and ammunition” into Ukraine, Al Jazeera reported.
As per a Kremlin statement, Putin and Macron discussed the supply of weapons and ammunition by NATO countries to Ukraine, which the Kremlin said was pushing Kyiv towards a “military solution” against separatists in the country’s east.
Meanwhile, United States has warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent, while Macron's office had termed the phone calls "the last possible and necessary efforts to avoid a major conflict in Ukraine."
Putin has also insisted for "the United States and NATO to take Russian demands for security guarantees seriously".
What Are Russia’s Demands?
Russia has three key demands from NATO:
The removal of NATO troops from Eastern European countries that joined after 1997
A guarantee that NATO would never induct Ukraine
An assurance that NATO countries will not install missile systems on Russia’s borders
Ukraine, on the other hand, refused to rule out the possibility of joining NATO in order to avoid war with Russia.
In 2019, the Ukrainian Constitution was amended to include Article 85, clause 5, that emphasises on the "realisation of the strategic course of the state on acquiring full-fledged membership of Ukraine in the European Union and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".
The volatile front line between Ukraine's army and the Russian-backed separatists has seen a "dramatic increase" in ceasefire violations, monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have said.
Hundreds of artillery and mortar attacks have also been reported in recent days.
(With inputs from Al Jazeera and AFP.)