What will really happen if Putin’s NATO demands aren’t met? Joe Biden issues warning

Ukraine: Putin has 'framed the debate' surrounding de-escalation

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Over the weekend, US President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart where he offered reassurances that he would support Ukraine were Russia to attempt a full-scale invasion of the country. Russia has reportedly amassed close to 100,000 soldiers on the border that the two countries share and has warned the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) against accepting Ukraine as a member state. 

Last Sunday, Mr Biden spoke by phone with Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where he reportedly made clear that the US would support Ukrainian interests if conflict broke out in the region with Russia. 

According to a statement from the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki: “President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”

Ms Psaki’s statement added that “he (President Biden) reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.“

Meanwhile, Mr Zelenskyy tweeted after the meeting: “The first international talk of the year with @POTUS proves the special nature of our relations.”

Mr Biden’s comments are likely to not be welcomed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, with whom he also shared a phone call last week. 

Within the 50 minute conversation the US President urged Mr Putin to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine. 

The two countries are due to meet again this month to hold security talks focusing on arms control agreements, NATO and the ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine. 

Despite concerns from the West, President Putin has previously insisted that Moscow is not planning an invasion of it’s ex-Soviet neighbour

Shortly before Christmas Russia unveiled a number of draft security documents that it wants the US to agree to. 

As part of the proposals it is demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries – such as Latvia and Lithuania. 

The documents would also provide a legally binding guarantee that NATO will give up military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine. 

Mr Putin has said that Ukraine’s entry into NATO would leave Russia unprotected from a direct attack from the West.

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Speaking at a press conference in Russia, last month, he said that NATO expansion towards Russia is “unacceptable”. 

The Russian leader stated that the West had “cheated, blatantly swindled” Moscow by offering verbal pledges in the 1990s not to expand NATO’s presence east and then enlarging to incorporate former Soviet bloc countries.

In 1999, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO. 

This was followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

What if Mr Putin’s demands are refused? 

As of yet the US and its allies have not agreed to Russia’s demands and tensions remain high over the possibility of conflict. 

Dmitry Kiselev, who presents the most popular news show on Russian state TV and plays a key role in spreading the Kremlin’s message to the public has said that Russia “will hold a gun to America’s head” if no agreement is reached. 

He said: “We’ll deploy missiles. But this is your choice. We don’t want this.”

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