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Biden, Putin to talk on Ukraine military tensions

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The call, requested by the Kremlin leader, was scheduled for 2030 GMT, and is the second time Putin and Biden will have talked in just over three weeks, reflecting intense diplomacy underway to try and resolve a dangerously escalating standoff on the fringes of eastern Europe.Washington and its European allies accuse Russia of threatening former Soviet territory Ukraine with a new invasion. Some 100,000 Russian troops are massed near the border of the country, where Putin already seized the Crimea region in 2014 and is accused of fomenting a pro-Russian separatist war which erupted that same year in the east.Earlier this month, the Russians issued a sweeping set of demands, including guarantees that NATO not expand further and a bar on new US military bases in former territories of the Soviet Union.Previous Western sanctions imposed after Moscow's annexation of Crimea have had little discernible impact.Biden, at his home in Wilmington, Delaware for the New Year's holiday, was to offer Putin a "diplomatic path" out of the crisis, a senior administration official told reporters.In a holiday message to Biden hours before the call, Putin said he is "convinced" that "we can move forward and establish an effective Russian-American dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration of each other's national interests.""We believe that only through talks is it possible to solve all the immediate problems that we have in abundance between us," Peskov said.The January talks will see Russian officials sitting down separately with negotiators representing the United States, NATO and the regional OSCE security forum, which also includes the United States.Ukraine, which wants to join NATO but has been told it is far from being ready to win acceptance, is eager not to be cut out of any wider deal.On Tuesday, the Pentagon said a US aircraft carrier group was to remain in the Mediterranean as a reassurance to European allies and on Thursday, CNN quoted a military official saying that  a powerful US spy plane had flown over eastern Ukraine for the second time this week.burs-sms/dw…



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