Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden have help telephone dialogue as the crisis over NATO escalates.

The second US-Russian presidential talks this month were expected to focus on Ukraine and the transatlantic bloc’s expansion

The two presidents held phone talks late on Thursday. The additional call, the second one in December, comes ahead of the upcoming Russian-American security talks in Geneva.

Both Washington and Moscow had remained tight-lipped on the specific agenda of the discussion, which began late on Thursday night.

The call convened at 23:35 Moscow time (3:35 PM EST) and lasted for some 50 minutes.

While the White House signaled the topic of the Ukrainian standoff would be invoked, Moscow said the discussion of a comprehensive security agreement, proposed by Russia, will be on the table.

The Kremlin has linked the phone talks to the upcoming high-profile security talks in Geneva, scheduled for January 10, with Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that “there is a need for another telephone conversation, which would come ahead of the start of negotiations.”

Earlier this month, Putin and Biden held a virtual summit via a secure video link, discussing a wide variety of issues, ranging from cyber security to the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Ukrainian conflict and a proposed security deal on NATO’s non-expansion further to the east were the central topics of the previous talks.

Washington and its western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of seeking to “invade” neighboring Ukraine, citing an alleged military buildup on its borders as proof.

Russia insists it has zero intent of attacking anybody, maintaining that any troop movements within its own territory are strictly its domestic business.

 

 

 

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