Updated Feb 21, 2022 - World

Biden and Putin agree "in principle" to hold summit

U.S. president Joe Biden (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty Images

President Biden agreed "in principle" to hold a summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the White House confirmed on Sunday evening.

Driving the news: Biden said the meeting can only take place if Russia does not invade Ukraine, according to statements from the White House and French President Emmanuel Macron's office, which first announced the news.

  • The agreement was reached following two separate phone calls that Macron had with the U.S. and Russian leaders, according to a statement from the Élysée Palace, which said Putin had also "accepted the principle of such a summit."

What to expect: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement that the summit would follow Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's scheduled meeting in Europe later this week — which would also only take place if Russia "does not proceed with military action."

  • The proposed meeting between Biden and Putin would be followed by talks involving "relevant stakeholders to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe," per the Élysée Palace.

What they're saying: "As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins," Psaki said.

  • "President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following [Blinken's meeting with Lavrov], again, if an invasion hasn't happened," she added.
  • "We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.  And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon."

Meanwhile, Blinken told CNN earlier on Sunday confirming that his meeting with Lavrov "all depends on what Russia does in the coming days" and that Biden "is prepared to engage President Putin at any time, in any format" if it can prevent war.

The other side: Kremlin officials said after Putin's call with Macron that he "stressed the necessity for the United States and NATO to take Russia's demands on ensuring security guarantees seriously and to respond to them in a concrete and substantive manner," the Russian news agency Tass reports.

The big picture: The announcement came as Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council, and U.S. officials warned that Putin was stoking disinformation in order to blame Ukraine if Russian troops were to invade the country.

  • The U.S. has warned the UN in a letter that "Russian forces are creating lists" of Ukrainians "to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation."
  • In Moscow, the U.S. embassy issued a security warning on Sunday regarding possible threats to Americans in the Russian capital and St. Petersburg.

Flashback: Biden and Putin last spoke in a Feb. 12 phone call, when the American president told his Russian counterpart that the U.S. and allies would "respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs" if Russia were to invade Ukraine.

Go deeper: Biden and Putin are live-blogging a pre-war

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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