(The Hill) – Any plans for a meeting between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are off the table for the time being, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.
Psaki did not explicitly rule out a meeting happening in the future but said Biden would not meet with Putin unless Russia de-escalates the situation in Ukraine by pulling back troops.
“We’re never going to completely closed the door to diplomacy,” he told reporters during a briefing, adding, however, that “diplomacy can’t succeed unless Russia changes course.”
The comments were not particularly surprising. Minutes earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was scrapping a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that had been tentatively planned for Thursday.
The White House said on Sunday that Biden had agreed “in principal” to meet with Putin after the Blinken-Lavrov meeting, on the condition that Russia did not invade Ukraine. That was before Putin sent forces into eastern Ukraine.
The Biden administration on Tuesday imposed economic sanctions on Russia, saying the decision by Putin to send forces into the Donbas represented an invasion of Ukraine.
- Putin ratchets up tension with moves in eastern Ukraine
- Biden, allies launch sanctions against Russia
Putin ordered forces into the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine after declaring them independent.
“He is setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view,” Biden in remarks from the East Room on Tuesday as he announced the sanctions. “This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Biden accused Russia of a blatant violation of international law and said the U.S. believed that Putin is laying the groundwork for a broader invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, Biden expressed fleeting hope for diplomacy to resolve the crisis.