Russia struck down potential plans for a meeting between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin — warning Monday it is too early to discuss holding a summit on the Ukraine crisis.
“It’s premature to talk about any specific plans for organizing any kind of summits,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“There is an understanding that dialogue should be continued at the level of foreign ministers,” he said, adding that there are “no concrete plans in place” for a presidential summit.
“If necessary, of course, the Russian and American presidents can decide to hold a telephone call or connect via other methods,” Peskov said. “A meeting is possible if the heads of state consider it appropriate.”
Moscow’s resistance comes just hours after Washington extended an olive branch, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying in a statement Sunday night that President Biden had “accepted in principle” a meeting with the Russian strongman.
Psaki, who reiterated the belief that Russia is on the brink of launching an attack, added: “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.”
Officials said earlier that the potential summit would follow a planned Thursday meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Meanwhile, Peskov said Monday that Putin plans to chair an emergency meeting of the Kremlin’s Security Council later in the day.
Biden on Friday said he was “convinced” that Putin had decided to invade Ukraine “in the coming days.”
The idea of a summit has been championed by France and cautiously welcomed by Ukraine as a way to avert a Russian invasion and catastrophic war in Europe.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the French effort.
“We believe that every effort aimed at a diplomatic solution is worth trying,” Kuleba said in Brussels ahead of a meeting with EU counterparts.
“We hope that the two presidents will walk out from the room with an agreement about Russia withdrawing its forces from Ukraine,” he added.
Lavrov was expected to speak by telephone with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday ahead of the scheduled talks with Blinken.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said there was no sign of Russian forces pulling back from the border, and that Moscow-backed rebels continue to shell Ukrainian positions.
“Since the beginning of this day, as of 09:00, 14 attacks have already been recorded, 13 of them from weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements,” he told reporters in Kyiv. “One of our soldiers was wounded.”
Meanwhile, Moscow said Monday that a shell fired from Ukraine had destroyed a border facility used by Russia’s Federal Security Service.
“On February 21, at 9:50 am (0650 GMT), an unidentified projectile fired from Ukraine completely destroyed a border facility used by the FSB border guard service in the Rostov region, around 150 meters from the Russian-Ukrainian border,” the security service said in a statement.
It said that no one had been injured and that Russian military engineers had arrived at the scene.
Footage released by the FSB showed a small building with its roof and walls caved in and a Russian flag leaning against debris, according to Agence France-Presse.
News of the potential meeting between Biden and Putin came as it was revealed that the US received credible intelligence that Russia plans to carry out disturbing human rights abuses in the aftermath of an invasion of Ukraine.
Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and Moscow-backed separatists hold territory in the eastern districts of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Moscow has amassed more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders in Belarus, Russia, Crimea and the Black Sea in recent weeks, according to US intelligence.