(Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed in principle to hold a French-brokered summit on the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the White House confirmed late Sunday night.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron first reported the news after Macron’s calls with both leaders on Sunday, adding Putin had also “accepted the principle of such a summit.” Biden said the summit would only happen on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement the potential meeting would occur after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet on February 24. However, she also downplayed the possibility of a meeting after Biden said Friday he believes Putin has decided to invade Ukraine.
.@PressSec: “President Biden accepted in principle a meeting w/ President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened. We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift & severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.” pic.twitter.com/7JT3QNJYit
— Stephen Michael (@stephenreports) February 21, 2022
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened,” Psaki said. “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift & severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.”
The possible summit, according to an Élysée Palace statement, was proposed by Macron after he held back-to-back phone calls with both men Sunday. A French readout of the calls said Macron “will work with all stakeholders to prepare the content of these discussions.”
The U.S. has said repeatedly Biden is willing to talk with Putin to avert conflict even as he’s threatened the possible severe economic sanctions on Russia if they move forward with an invasion. The news comes after Biden held a National Security Council meeting on Sunday.
Despite both Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveling to Germany, tensions in Ukraine remain high and the threat of war is still a possibility.
“As of this moment, I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Biden said Friday.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more information.