‘It’s too early to talk about this meeting’ The Kremlin’s spokesman comments on potential talks between presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden
During a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, April 13, U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a summit meeting between the two leaders in the coming months, “to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” However, in conversation with journalists on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “it’s still too early” to talk about the specifics of such a meeting. He also confirmed that Putin and Biden didn’t discuss jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny.
Kommersant: In a phone conversation, [U.S. President] Joseph Biden proposed a meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in the near future. Does the Kremlin have an understanding of where and when such a meeting can take place?
Dmitry Peskov: It’s still too early to talk about this meeting in terms of specifics. This is a new proposal and it will be studied and analyzed. The leaders agreed that the topic of such a meeting would be discussed through diplomatic channels later.
Kommersant: Given the state of relations with the U.S., what could Putin talk to Biden about? The readout following the conversation mentioned that Biden is ready to discuss strategic stability, arms control, Iran’s nuclear program, Afghanistan, and the climate. What other issue ought to be raised, in the Kremlin’s opinion? Or is that all that can be negotiated?
Dmitry Peskov: Well certainly bilateral relations are important. Bilateral relations are important in those aspects that represent mutual interests and in the discussions that the parties are interested in.
Kommersant: Are the parties planning to discuss the situation in south-east Ukraine?
Dmitry Peskov: The parties aren’t planning a list of topics for the discussion yet. You understand that there is no preparation for this meeting yet, I want to repeat [that]. It’s too early to pose questions in this way.
Kommersant: But will the Kremlin raise the issue through diplomatic channels of Mr. Biden apologizing for his words? And what is needed so that Vladimir Putin could possibly reformulate his schoolyard adage “Look who’s talking”?
Dmitry Peskov: I will leave this question without comment.
Unian: Have the heads of the two states come to some kind of understanding regarding the necessary de-escalation at the borders with Ukraine?
Dmitry Peskov: Strictly speaking, all of the concerns anyone has, including the United States of America, regarding the movements of our armed forces on Russia’s soil, we consider to be unfounded. And on the territory of Ukraine, de-escalation can occur only as a result of Ukraine’s armed forces refraining from provocative actions.
Bloomberg: Was the topic of [Alexey] Navalny raised?
Dmitry Peskov: No, I don’t think the topic of Navalny was touched upon.
RIA Novosti: What was the overall tone of the conversation? How would you characterize it?
Dmitry Peskov: Business-like.
RIA Novosti: Was it short or long?
Dmitry Peskov: Well probably you yourself can conclude from the abundance of topics that were named from both sides as a result of this talk that the conversation was quite lengthy.
RIA Novosti: And what is your impression of the discussion of the topic of Ukraine? Do you think this will serve to de-escalate tensions there? Did you feel Washington’s mood on this subject?
Dmitry Peskov: I don’t understand the question. Washington is perfectly capable of using its influence on Kyiv and encouraging Ukrainians to refrain from provocative actions.
RIA Novosti: In your opinion, will [Washington] use this influence or will it remain neutral?
Dmitry Peskov: This isn’t a question for us.