In what can be termed as a diplomatic breakthrough in the Ukraine crisis, the Elysee (official residence of the French President) on Sunday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US President Joe Biden have in-principle agreed to a bilateral summit on the proposal of French President Emmanuel Macron.
“(Macron) proposed a summit to be held between President BIDEN and President PUTIN and then with relevant stakeholders to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe. Presidents BIDEN and PUTIN have both accepted the principle of such a summit,” The Elysee said in a press release after the French President spoke to his Russian and American counterparts.
The statement further said that the summit will be held on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine. The agenda of the summit will be prepared by the US secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov who will meet on 24th February.
“The (French) President of the Republic will work with all stakeholders to prepare the content of these discussions,” the statement concluded. “Timing to be determined. Format to be determined so it's all completely notional,” AFP quoted a senior Biden administration official expressing caution.
This comes after a crucial phone call between Russian and French Presidents on Sunday who discussed the need for diplomatic steps to be taken to ease the crisis in eastern Ukraine. “In view of the urgency of the situation, the Presidents acknowledged the need to intensify the search for solutions through diplomatic means via the foreign ministries and political advisers to the leaders of the Normandy format,” The Kremlin said in a release.
The US on Sunday warned that Russia is following the “playbook” to execute its invasion of Ukraine even as he said diplomacy can still pave a way out of the crisis. “As we've described it, everything leading up to the actual invasion appears to be taking place… We believe President Putin has made the decision, but until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from carrying this forward,” Blinken told CNN.