Biden voices concern at Trump’s stance on Russia at Ukraine meeting

Two days after a Nato summit in which Trump reportedly clashed with German chancellor Angela Merkel, vice-president Joe Biden held what he called a “serious conversation” with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Predictably, president Putin’s representative tried to divert attention from US intelligence reports coming out of Ukraine accusing Russia of covert assistance in support of pro-Russian separatists attempting to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Those reports are based on the remarkable documentation of a key Russian programme in Crimea,” Biden said in a prepared statement.

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He said his talks with Putin, which followed a meeting with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, focused on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

According to Biden, Putin told him, “He [Ukraine’s president] only makes up reports to give the outside world a reason to continue sanctions against Russia and him as a political prop.”

Biden said, “So Russia presents a choice as well. While Moscow claims to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, it actually continues to militarily occupy Crimea and support pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine.

“Either we turn our backs on what is happening and provide political cover for Russia’s increasingly dangerous violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, or we enforce the rules-based international order that has endured so long because it works.”

The spokeswoman for President Trump, Sarah Sanders, says the US must continue working to combat Russia’s aggression. “While the president is not on the phone with foreign leaders right now, we remain committed to creating a win-win situation and the best option to doing that is through a diplomatic solution.

Biden is scheduled to speak with Merkel on Friday.

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