(CNSNews.com) – President Biden said on Tuesday he saw no “rationale” to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit both are expected to attend in Indonesia next month, although he did not rule out the possibility altogether.
“It would depend on specifically what he wanted to talk about,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper, saying that if, for example, Putin offered to discuss efforts to release the jailed American basketball player Brittney Griner, “I’d meet with him.”
Biden reiterated the stance taken by the U.S. and its allies throughout the crisis over the Russian invasion of its neighbor – “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
“So I’m not about to, nor is anyone else prepared to, negotiate with Russia about them staying in Ukraine, keeping any part of Ukraine, et cetera,” he said. “So it would depend on specifically what he wanted to talk about.”
“But look, he’s acted brutally. He’s acted brutally,” Biden continued. “He – I think he’s committed war crimes. And so, I don’t, I don’t see any rationale to meet with him now.”
Last Thursday, when asked by reporters at the White House whether he would meet with Putin at the G20 summit, Biden replied, “That remains to be seen.”
Indonesia hosts the G20 summit on the resort island of Bali on November 15-16, an event that will bring Putin and some of his fiercest critics together for the first time since he invaded Ukraine last February.
Also present will be leaders friendly to Moscow, and some who have been reluctant to speak out publicly against the aggression.
(In a U.N. General Assembly vote last March month condemning the invasion G20 members China, India, and South Africa abstained. In a vote the following month to expel Russia from the Human Rights Council, G20 member China joined Russia in voting no, and G20 members Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa abstained.)
A month after the invasion began, Biden said he thought Russia should be expelled from the G20, but that if that proved impossible, then Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should be invited to attend the summit as well.
Summit host Indonesian President Joko Widodo duly invited Zelenskyy to take part, an invitation which he accepted in principle but said the final decision would depend on the prevailing security situation at the time – and on whether the Russians would be present.
Zelenskyy at the time voiced the hope that some G20 leaders may boycott the summit if Putin attends, but no G20 government has given any such indication.
Widodo in August confirmed Putin’s planned attendance.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a Russian TV interview that Russia never rejects dialogue, and should it receive an offer for a meeting between Putin and Biden in Bali, Moscow would consider it
He added that it was mere “journalistic speculation” that Biden’s comment that it “remains to be seen” if they will meet was a signal that plans for an encounter have already been made.
Lavrov also said that Russian has not received from the U.S. any serious proposals on talks about the situation in Ukraine.
Claims by the U.S. that “they are completely open for talks with the Russian Federation, advocate political resolution of the current situation in Ukraine and around it, but it is the evil Russia who rejects all proposals for contacts,” were not true, he said.
“It is a lie. I can tell you that right here.”
Asked about Lavrov’s claim that Russia has heard no serious proposal to negotiate, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Russians were “posturing.”
“We do not see this as a constructive, legitimate offer to engage in the dialogue and diplomacy that is absolutely necessary to see an end to this brutal war of aggression,” he told a briefing.
Price said that at a G7 teleconference call on Tuesday, the leaders of the world’s leading democratic economies had “welcomed President Zelenskyy’s very clear statements that this is a war that must end through dialogue and diplomacy.”
Pointing to two days of heavy Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, Price said, “If the Russians want to signal that they’re serious about dialogue and diplomacy, perhaps – and again, without being prescriptive – but perhaps a good first step would be to stop the kind of brutal assault followed by what appear to be nothing more than empty words.”