U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to hold a bilateral summit, followed by a meeting with all relevant parties, on the security situation in Europe, after both leaders spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, the ElysÃ©e said.
But the meeting â€œcan only be held at the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine,â€ the ElysÃ©e said in its readout of the calls.
Macron spoke with Putin twice on Sunday, the first time for an hour and 40 minutes and the second for an hour, as Western leaders attempt to de-escalate the crisis sparked by the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraineâ€™s borders. Macronâ€™s second call with Putin came after the French president spoke with Biden for around 15 minutes.
In its readout, the ElysÃ©e said Macron had proposed the summit between Biden and Putin, and then with all parties, â€œto discuss security and strategic stability in Europe,â€ with Biden and Putin having â€œboth accepted the principle of such a summit.â€
The summit would be prepared by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russiaâ€™s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting scheduled for this Thursday, February 24. The ElysÃ©e added Macron â€œwill work with all stakeholders to prepare the content of these discussions.â€
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that â€œSecretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action. President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasnâ€™t happened.â€
She added: â€œWe are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.â€