Connect with us

News

Biden pushes Putin for Ukraine de-escalation in second call this month

Published

on

President Joe Biden urged his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Thursday to take steps to ease an unremitting crisis on Russia’s border with Ukraine, warning again of dire economic consequences should Putin proceed with an invasion.

The 50-minute phone call did not yield any major breakthroughs, US and Russian officials said afterward, but did establish the tenor for upcoming in-person diplomatic talks between the two sides.
Putin requested the telephone call this week, and Biden — who believes nothing can replace direct conversations between heads of state — was eager to oblige. Biden and Putin had last spoken on December 7 in a videoconference that ended with a pledge to restart diplomatic discussions — but no indication Russia was preparing to de-escalate.
Putin again offered little clues to his intentions on Thursday, officials said after the call had concluded. Instead, the two men held what a US official described as a “serious and substantive” discussion, during which Biden laid out two paths for Putin as he continues to amass Russian troops on the border with Ukraine: one a diplomatic route toward de-escalation and one focused on deterrence using economic sanctions, enhanced US troop presence on NATO’s eastern flank and increased assistance to Ukraine.
Which path is chosen “will depend on Russia’s actions in the period ahead,” the official said, saying there would be “serious costs and consequences” should Russia proceed with its regional aggression.
Putin responded with a dire warning, a Kremlin aide said. He told Biden that introducing a new round of sanctions against Russia would amount to a “colossal mistake” that could lead to a complete breakdown of relations between the two countries.
“A lot of such mistakes have been made over the past 30 years,” Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said, “and it is advisable not to make such mistakes again.”
Biden also told Putin the US did not plan to deploy offensive weapons in Ukraine, Ushakov said.
Putin “noted that this is one of the key points included in the draft [on security guarantees Russia seeks],” Ushakov added.
As many as 100,000 Russian troops have remained amassed at the Ukrainian border, despite warnings from Biden and European leaders of serious consequences should Putin move ahead with an invasion. US officials also say Moscow is engaged in a massive disinformation campaign meant to undermine Ukraine’s government ahead of that country’s national elections.
Biden conducted the call from his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Biden-Putin talks come roughly two weeks before Americans and Russian diplomats are scheduled meet in Geneva to discuss the ongoing crisis. In the lead-up to those discussions, Russia publicly offered a list of security concerns and demands it wants addressed, including a commitment that Ukraine never be allowed to join the NATO and that military equipment from the alliance not be positioned in its former Soviet states.
The United States has prepared its own list of concerns, a senior US administration official told reporters on Wednesday, but isn’t planning to release it publicly. Instead, Biden’s advisers believe it will be more fruitful to keep the negotiations private.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead the US delegation to the talks, which are set for January 10, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Biden and Putin are not expected to participate themselves. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov will lead the Russian delegation. Pentagon and National Security Council officials will also attend the talks on the US side, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.
The direct US-Russia talks will be followed by broader meetings between NATO and Russia, along with a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where a slate of topics are up for discussion.
The US has pledged to keep western European nations and Ukraine itself in the loop as Biden engages Putin diplomatically. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and White House officials said they were in near-daily contact with counterparts from the United Kingdom, France and Germany to coordinate their approach.
“There is a significant amount of security coordination between Ukraine and the United States and the coordination has only been intensifying in recent weeks,” said an adviser to Zelensky.
The US has been able to convince its allies to prepare a set of harsh sanctions, including on some of Putin’s top allies, as part of a coordinated approach. US officials have said the punishment would be far more severe than sanctions applied in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.
Since Biden last spoke to Putin, there have not been indications Russia is easing its posture on the border with Ukraine, though a senior administration official said the situation was fluid.
“It is not entirely static from our perspective,” the official said. “It remains a continuing source of grave concern what the Russians have been putting in place in and around that border area.”
The Russian buildup has included troops, artillery, vehicles and supply lines, officials have said previously. Earlier this week, Russia announced it would withdraw 10,000 troops back to their regular barracks. But US officials suggested the move did not amount to a major de-escalation.
In the meantime, the US has maintained its own posture in the region. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its escort ships to stay in the Mediterranean area rather than sail to the Middle East as part of an effort to reassure European allies.
Ahead of the discussion on Thursday, the US Air Force flew another spy plane over eastern Ukraine to gather intelligence about the military situation on the ground, a source familiar with the mission told CNN.
It was the second time this week the US carried out such a mission using the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).
The first flight, on Monday, marked the first time a JSTARS aircraft had ever flown over the region, Lt. Cmdr. Russ Wolfkiel, a spokesman for US European Command, told CNN. Wolfkiel told CNN the US “routinely operates aircraft in the Black Sea region in support of various US and coalition intelligence objectives,” but the flights come as the US has been trying to collect intelligence about Russia’s troop movements along the Ukraine border.
The JSTARS system can track ground vehicles when they are moving, collect imagery, and relay photos and tracks of moving formations to ground and air commanders, which in turn would allow the US and its allies to monitor Russia’s force posture. An on-board antenna has a 120-degree field of view that can cover nearly 20,000 square miles to monitor ground movements, according to an Air Force fact sheet, and can also detect aircraft.
Source: CNN
Continue Reading
Comments

News

PVC: Gov. Matawalle declares one-week public holiday

Published

on

The Governor of Zamfara State, Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle has declared next week Monday to Friday, (June 20th to 24th, 2022) as work free week to enable the State’s public and civil servants to go to their respective localities and obtain their Permanent Voter Cards, (PVC).
The Governor directed all the commissioners, Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries, other public office holders, party officials and traditional rulers to monitor and supervise the ongoing Voter Registration exercise.

This was contained in a press statement signed and issued to newsmen in Gusau, the State capital by the State’s commissioner for information, Hon. Ibrahim Magaji Dosara.
According to the statement, every person above the age of 18 is expected to be part of the exercise, saying that it was their constitutional right to elect their leaders.

Governor Matawalle appealed to the general public to participate in the exercise so that they would not complain later.

Continue Reading

News

Taraba retirees protest against non-payment of gratuity

Published

on

The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Taraba State Council has called on the state government to ensure prompt payment of all entitlements of its members as well as enrollment of all local government retirees in the state.
The state Chairman of the Union, Comrade Kefas Katan stated this at a World Press Conference held on Friday at the NUP Headquarters in Jalingo, the state capital.
He explained that the backlogs of gratuity for retired civil servants in the state are estimated at over N30billion.
The Chairman said the briefing was a replication of the one conducted on the 1st June 2022 in Abuja by the National President of the Union, Mazi Godwin.
Comrade Kefas Katan said retirees in Taraba State are facing numerous challenges due to the non-enrollment of many of its members into the scheme.
Reporting by Sani Suleiman; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare

Continue Reading

News

Buhari inaugurates council on e-Governance

Published

on

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will continue to take advantage of digital technologies to transform every sector of the economy.

He stated this in Abuja while inaugurating the Presidential Council on Digital Economy and E-government.

The President tasked members of the council to work towards strengthening the capacity of government to develop, adopt and deploy digital technologies to make government more efficient and transparent, thereby improving Nigeria’s global standing in the ease of doing business index.

He noted that the council would provide the oversight needed to bring about a veritable structure for accelerating achievements in digital economy and in the implementation of e-government.

The President enjoined members of the Council to consider the task as a national assignment and justify the trust reposed in their ability to support and significantly enhance the digital transformation in the country.

He said the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS, in 2019, and expansion of the mandate of the Ministry of Communications to include Digital Economy had brought significant progress and a number of unprecedented achievements.

President Buhari expressed delight that the approval of the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions had helped to formalize government online meetings.

He said Nigeria’s progress in e-governance had been noted by the international community, eliciting recognition from international stakeholders, including the appointment of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as the Chairman of the 2022 Forum of the highly regarded World Summit of the Information Society.

While congratulating the Minister, the President acknowledged that the Ministry had partnered with the Korea International Co-operation Agency to develop a National E-government Master Plan, approved by FEC in August 2019.

He listed benefits from the partnership to include training of over 1,400 Nigerian public servants in both Nigeria and South Korea on e-governance, the launch of an e-Government Training Centre, handed over to the Federal Government in 2019, and the signing-off of Phase II of the E-government Project for Building Foundations Towards Digital Governance in Nigeria, 2020-2026.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, had noted that the launch of NDEPS made provision for the establishment of the Presidential Council to co-ordinate the development of an indigenous digital economy.

He said the recent auction of spectrums by the Ministry, generated over 400 percent revenue to the Federal Government coffers, while two virtual institutions established by government had trained some 500,000 Nigerians on digital and emerging technologies.

The 27-man committee, chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, on behalf of President Buhari, has Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Governors of Gombe, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Edo, Lagos, and Imo, as members.

Others are the Ministers of Finance, Industry, Trade and Investment, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Limited.

Others are Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, and the Director General, National Identity Management Commission.

Continue Reading

Trending