White House urges Putin to embrace ‘de-escalation and diplomacy’ toward Ukraine
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters, and she is joined by national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Sullivan provided more details on Joe Biden’s virtual summit with Vladimir Putin this morning, saying the US president was “direct and straightforward” with the Russian leader.
The president warned Putin that the US would respond with “strong economic measures” if Russia invaded Ukraine, Sullivan said.
The national security adviser added that Biden urged his Russian counterpart to embrace “de-escalation and diplomacy” toward Ukraine rather than continuing to build up a military presence along the border.
The Republican National Committee criticized Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda after the US president’s virtual summit with Vladimir Putin this morning.
“Biden’s weak leadership on the international stage has emboldened our enemies and shaken our allies’ trust,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
“While claiming to be tough on Russia, Biden gifted Putin the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline while simultaneously embarking on a job-killing crusade against the U.S. energy industry. Today’s meeting underscores how Biden’s weak global leadership, Afghanistan disaster, and failure at our border is emblematic of his America last agenda.”
In its readout of the summit, the White House said Biden “voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation”.
Donald Trump’s plan to launch “Truth Social”, a special purpose acquisitions backed social media company, early next year may have hit a roadblock after US regulators issued a request for information on the deal on Monday.
The request from the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for information from Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), a blank-check SPAC that is set to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group, comes as a powerful Republican congressman, Devin Nunes, announced he was stepping out of politics to join the Trump media venture as CEO.
The twin developments set the stage for a major political battle over Truth Social, a platform that purportedly plans to challenge Twitter and Facebook, social platforms that have banned or curbed the former president over his involvement in stoking the 6 January Capitol riot.
About 200 officers have left the US Capitol police since the 6 January insurrection, according to the force’s inspector general.
Giving testimony before a Senate committee hearing, Michael Bolton also said the Capitol police had not done enough to improve its practices in the 11 months since the attack.
Bolton also said that out of “200 security enhancements” the department told him it would make, “only 61 of those items have supporting documentation to support that those enhancements have occurred”.
The Senate Rules Committee hearing was also notable for a suggestion from Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican senator for West Virginia, that Congress should conduct large-scale drills, in the same way many US schools are forced to, in case of an active shooter.
White House: Biden confronted Putin over Ukraine troop escalation
Joe Biden voiced “deep concerns” about the escalation of Russian forces surrounding Ukraine during his call with Vladimir Putin today, according to a summary of the conversation published by the White House.
The call took in a “range of issues”, the White House said, including the Ukraine situation and ransomware.
From the White House:
President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the US and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation.
President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy. The two presidents tasked their teams to follow up and the US will do so in close coordination with allies and partners.
The presidents also discussed the US-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, a separate dialogue on ransomware, as well as joint work on regional issues such as Iran.
This is Adam Gabbatt, taking over from Joan for a little while.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a virtual summit that lasted roughly two hours. The meeting comes as Putin has built up Russia’s troop presence along the country’s border with Ukraine, raising concerns of a potential invasion.
- Biden is speaking with several European leaders this afternoon to provide an update on his conversation with Putin. The White House said Biden will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
- Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, is no longer cooperating with the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Meadows’ attorney said the panel wanted the former official to discuss matters over which Donald Trump has claimed executive privilege, although lawmakers have rejected the legitimacy of the former president’s claims.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
The White House has shared a photo of Joe Biden’s virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this morning, which wrapped up about an hour ago.
The photo shows the US president, accompanied by secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in the Situation Room.
“[email protected] held a secure video call with President Putin of Russia today to discuss a range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, including our concerns about Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine, cyber and regional issues,” the White House said on Twitter.
One of suspected killers of Jamal Khashoggi held in Paris
The Guardian’s Kim Willsher and Stephanie Kirchgaessner report:
French police have arrested a former member of the Saudi royal guard who has also served as a personal security official for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his suspected involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi was taken into custody at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport as he was about to take a plane to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The arrest marks the first time that any individual accused by international experts of participating in the grisly state-sponsored execution of the Washington Post columnist has been arrested outside of Saudi Arabia.
Otaibi, 33, has been named as one of the “commando” group in the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi was killed on 2 October 2018. He was on the Interpol red list after an arrest warrant was issued by Turkey. He was travelling under his real name, according to French radio RTL, which broke the story.
Biden-Putin summit ends after two hours
Joe Biden’s virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin has ended after about two hours, the White House told the press pool.
The White House and the Kremlin are expected to release readouts of the summit, which was not viewable by the public.
Joe Biden will soon hold a call with several European leaders — including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — to provide an update on his conversation with Putin.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan will also join White House press secretary Jen Psaki at her daily briefing this afternoon to provide more details on the call. Stay tuned.
Biden to speak with European leaders after Putin summit
Joe Biden will speak to several leaders of European nations this afternoon, after his virtual summit with Vladimir Putin concludes.
“This afternoon, President Biden will convene a call with President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Draghi of Italy, and Prime Minister Johnson of the United Kingdom following his call with President Putin,” the White House told the press pool.
“On their call yesterday, the leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a coordinated and comprehensive approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan will also join White House press secretary Jen Psaki for her daily briefing this afternoon to provide reporters with more details on the summit.
The Atlantic has published a profile of Peter Meijer, one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
Meijer is now trying to determine his place in a party that remains extremely loyal to the former president, who has dedicated himself to ousting Republicans who pushed for his impeachment or conviction.
Meijer told the Atlantic about his experience on January 6, as the insurrection unfolded:
On the House floor, moments before the vote, Meijer approached a member who appeared on the verge of a breakdown. He asked his new colleague if he was okay. The member responded that he was not; that no matter his belief in the legitimacy of the election, he could no longer vote to certify the results, because he feared for his family’s safety. ‘Remember, this wasn’t a hypothetical. You were casting that vote after seeing with your own two eyes what some of these people are capable of,’ Meijer says. ‘If they’re willing to come after you inside the U.S. Capitol, what will they do when you’re at home with your kids?’
The Guardian’s Helen Davidson and Vincent Ni report:
China has reacted angrily to the US government’s diplomatic boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics, as more countries said they would consider joining the protest over Beijing’s human rights record and New Zealand announced it would not send representatives to the Games.
Chinese officials dismissed Washington’s boycott as a “political posturing and manipulation” and tried to discredit the decision by claiming that US diplomats had not even been invited to Beijing in the first place.
“The US should stop politicising sports, and stop disrupting and undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, lest it should affect bilateral dialogue and cooperation in important areas and international and regional issues,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned.
The White House confirmed on Monday that it would not send any official or diplomatic representatives to the Winter Games and Paralympics in February, “given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses”.
Russian state television shared a clip of the start of Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden’s virtual summit this morning, which started about 45 minutes ago.
The clip shows the American and Russian leaders greeting each other before beginning their discussion about the situation in Ukraine.
The rest of the summit will not be viewable by the public, but both the White House and the Kremlin will likely release readouts of the conversation after it wraps up.
Biden begins virtual summit with Putin
Joe Biden’s virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially begun, a White House official told the press pool.
The conversation comes as Putin has built up Russia’s troop presence along the country’s border with Ukraine, raising concerns of a potential invasion.
According to CNN, the Pentagon is now making plans to evacuate US citizens from Ukraine if Russia does invade the country.
The White House is expected to release a readout of the closed-door summit after it concludes. Stay tuned.
Meadows will stop cooperating with Capitol attack committee – reports
Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, reportedly plans to stop cooperating with the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, told Fox News, “We have made efforts over many weeks to reach an accommodation with the committee.”
Terwilliger claimed that Meadows was willing to appear before the committee and discuss matter that are not protected by executive privilege.
However, the panel’s leaders have indicated they wished to discuss issues where Donald Trump has attempted to claim executive privilege, after the lawmakers dismissed the legitimacy of the former president’s claims.
Meadows is expected to appear on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show tonight to discuss his decision.
The Biden administration is reportedly preparing for a potential evacuation of US citizens from Ukraine if Russia invades the country.
The contingency planning is being led by the Pentagon, [half a dozen] sources said, and comes as the administration briefs Congress on how the US is preparing. In a ‘gloomy’ briefing to senators by senior State Department official Victoria Nuland on Monday night, Nuland outlined the tough sanctions package being prepared by the administration in response to a potential Russian attack, but acknowledged that the US’ options to deter an invasion are fairly limited, a person familiar with the briefing said.
It is still unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the decision to invade, US officials stressed. But he has amassed enough forces, equipment and supplies near Ukraine’s borders that he could move to attack on very short notice.
Biden and Putin are scheduled to hold a virtual call starting in about five minutes, and that conversation may inform the Pentagon’s preparations for a potential evacuation. Stay tuned.
Before his virtual summit with Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden made a trip this morning to the World War II Memorial in Washington.
The president and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, laid a wreath at the memorial to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
A swift reprisal package against Russia – including US troops and Patriot missiles stationed in the Baltics, the cutting off of Russia from the Swift banking payments system and reinstated sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – must be prepared now in case it invades Ukraine, the Latvian foreign minister has said.
The warning from Edgars Rinkēvičs comes as Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin prepare to hold talks about the growing tensions.
The US has said it would send reinforcements to Nato’s eastern flank in the event of an invasion, as well as imposing severe new economic measures against Russia.
With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops already gathered within striking distance of the borders, the situation is the worst it’s been since 2015, when Moscow staged a large-scale incursion into Ukraine, clandestinely sending tanks and artillery to encircle Ukrainian troops and compelling Kyiv to sign a peace agreement in Minsk that has since come close to collapse.
Biden to speak with Putin amid fears of Ukraine invasion
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Joe Biden will hold a virtual call with Vladimir Putin today, amid intensifying concerns about the increased Russian troop presence along the country’s border with Ukraine.
The Guardian’s Julian Borger reports:
Biden goes into Tuesday’s virtual summit with Vladimir Putin, after days of close consultation with European allies on a joint response to an invasion of Ukraine, armed with a wide range of punitive measures at his disposal.
There would be increased military support for Kyiv and a bolstering of Nato’s eastern flank, but the primary focus would be on sanctions. The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said they would include ‘high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from taking in the past’.
‘I think Biden will lay out in considerable detail what sanctions the US will undertake,’ said Anders Åslund, adjunct professor at the center for Eurasian, Russian and east European studies at Georgetown University. ‘There are very many tools that they have available.’
Previewing the summit yesterday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “It is an opportunity for the president to underscore, of course, US concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
The summit is set to get underway in the next hour. Stay tuned.