Once again, Oaklandsocialist’s Clairvoyant Correspondent scoops all other media by reporting a “transcript” of today’s Biden-Putin phone conversation. (NOTE: This story is filed under the category “Fiction More Real than Fact”)
Scene: the Situation Room of the White House. Putin and Biden are talking on the phone.
Biden: Good morning, or I should say good afternoon, President Putin. May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family the very best in the coming new year.
Putin: Da. Good afternoon to you Mr. Biden. Thank you for your wishes and I wish you the same.
Biden: So, President Putin, you asked for this conversation…
Putin: Yes, technically it was I who requested this discussion, although I know that you wish for it just as much as I, according to my sources.
Biden: I don’t know what sources you have, but…
(At this point, the voices became indistinct but there was further back and forth over who wanted the discussion more.)
Putin: Well, since you insist, and in order not to waste too much time, yes we both wish to avoid a confrontation in Ukraine. As you know, the NATO advances towards our border are a threat to our sovereignty and cannot be tolerated.
Biden: Are you referring to Ukraine?
Putin: Yes, among other countries.
Biden: President Putin, Ukraine is a sovereign nation. It has a right to make whatever alliances, military or otherwise, that its legitimately elected government wishes to make.
Putin: That was not the position of the United States many years ago when the legitimate government of Cuba wished to place rockets of the Soviet Union on its soil.
Biden: Be that as it may, President Putin, we are where we are today.
Putin: In any case, regarding the entry of Ukraine into NATO: Any serious steps towards such an integration is a red line for us. We wish to avoid such a step, but we will take whatever actions necessary, military included, should it be necessary. As you know, we have indicated that we need an iron guarantee from you that this will not happen. Otherwise we will ensure on our own that it does not. We wish to avoid military measures, but I want to make clear that we will not hesitate to take them should it be necessary.
Biden: President Putin, we are both well experienced in international diplomacy. You have said what you have to say publicly, as have I. We understand your red line and take it into account. However, as you are well aware, I cannot guarantee that Ukraine will not be integrated into NATO. In the first place, as you know, our political system is somewhat different from yours and such a guarantee would not be accepted by a huge sector of our voters as well as by much of our foreign policy establishment. Furthermore, formally that is not a decision to be taken by the United States along; it must be taken by the NATO nations themselves, of which we are a part, an influential part but only one part. To make such an iron-clad guarantee would be disprespectful and therefore unacceptable to our NATO allies.
Furthermore, I must stress for you that should Russian troops enter Ukraine, this will be extremely costly. Not only will you face an armed population, but you will face economic sanctions that will be very severe.
Putin (his voice now betraying a bit of frustration): President Biden, please do not threaten me. Of course we wish to avoid a direct confrontation with the United States, but we will not, we cannot, retreat on this issue. We have already taken effective control over the Donbas region. Furthermore, you yourselves have your hands full dealing with your economic competiton with our allies, China.
It is regrettable that there is not an occupant in the White House who is more understanding of our position, as was the case in the past and may be the case in the not too distant future also.
If this is all you have to say, then we will do what we must and we will deal with the consequences. Shall we say “Happy New Year” and terminate the call here, come what may?
Biden (his voice rising several decibels): President Putin, I well understand your reference to our previous president as well as your implied threat to continue your illegal interventions into the electoral system of the United States of America. If that is all you have to say… (voices can be heard in the background)…. Just a moment, President Putin…
(At this point, there is a break in the conversation for several minutes and indistinct voices – some in Russian coming from Putin’s end and some in English coming from Biden’s – can be heard.)
Biden (he takes a deep breath, then): President Putin, let us do a reset here. Of course we understand your position. And I hope you understand ours.
Putin: Well, yes, we both understand the situation. Perhaps an iron clad guarantee regarding Ukraine and NATO is not exactly what is required here…
Biden: President Putin, thank you for your clarification. As you are well aware, while we cannot make any guarantee, we can stress that we – and I am speaking for not only my administration but our foreign policy establishment in general – we are well aware of your concerns. I believe that many of our NATO allies are also aware of your concerns. Also, as you know, the integration of Ukraine into NATO would have to be a time-consuming multi step process. That would give you ample time to organize any response you consider necessary. However, I repeat, I do not believe that such measures as you contemplate will be necessary.
Putin: I understand your position, President Biden, as you understand mine.
Biden: I think, therefore, that the presence of your troops on the border with Ukraine are unnecessary as far as your concerns, and I believe it would be helpful if they were deployed elsewhere as soon as possible.
Putin: It is not possible to immediately redeploy those troops, as I am sure you understand.
Biden: yes, yes, of course. This cannot be done immediately. That is understandable.
Putin: Our troops will remain in their present position for the moment. I do not wish to challenge your honesty with me, President Biden. Given the situation, and depending on developments in the coming months, however, I think we may find it unnecessary to continue with the present positioning of some of our troops.
Biden: Yes, yes… that is all I am saying. I think we have a good understanding. I think this call has been helpful, both for that understanding as well as for our respective situation in the international community.
Putin: Yes, I believe so. May I wish you once again the very best in the new year.
Biden: Thank you and the same to you. Good bye for now.
Putin: Good bye.
At this point, the call ended and both parties put out a press release stating that they had had a clear discussion of their respective positions and that they considered the phone calls to have been successful. Biden’s press release included a comment saying that he believes Putin understands his (Biden’s) grave concern over a possible Russian invasion and that he (Biden) believes that while there are no guarantees, he believes he has convinced President Putin to take those concerns into account. Putin’s press release expressed similar sentiments regarding a possible Ukrainian integration into NATO. In both cases, the respective writers of the press releases took care to make it seem that the diplomatic abilities of their respective president had convinced their counterpart. At the same time, they ensured that nothing was said that would cause that counterpart to “lose face”.
Categories: fiction more real than fact