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Ukraine was the main topic of the Biden-Putin summit. What did the leaders have to say?

U.S., Russian and Ukrainian leaders comment on the 7-year war in Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden and in Geneva.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Joe Bidenmeet at the Villa la Grange on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Geneva.
Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

Ukraine has been at war for seven years. The conflict between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists has continued to simmer in eastern Ukraine, claiming over 13,000 lives since 2014, reports CBS News.

  • The fighting in Ukraine is the only active conflict in Europe, says The New York Times.
  • Ukraine has pushed to receive NATO membership which, under NATO’s collective defense clause, would require all NATO states to come to the country’s aid, says Defense News.
  • For the U.S. and Russia, the conflict in Ukraine has increasingly strained international relations, says CBS News.

Wednesday at the Geneva closed-door summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine was the main topic, says Yahoo News.

Here’s what each side had to say about the topic.

What did Biden say about Ukraine?

Biden indicated that U.S. commitment to democracy and stability depends on the situation in Ukraine, reports Yahoo News.

  • “I communicated the United States’ unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Biden said after the summit, per Yahoo News.

Ahead of the summit, Biden said Ukraine could join NATO if “they meet the criteria,” reports The New York Times.

What did Putin say about Ukraine?

Following Wednesday’s summit, Putin affirmed his commitment to resolving the crisis in Ukraine but denied that Russia’s military had contributed to the persistence of the conflict, says Yahoo News.

  • “In my view, we are acting absolutely appropriately to counter threats that are emerging against us,” Putin said after the summit per Yahoo News.

Putin also said that Ukraine joining NATO would be a “red line” for Russia, but did not elaborate what this meant, reports Reuters.

What did Ukraine say about the Biden-Putin Summit?

Ahead of the meeting between Biden and Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his government would reject any agreement that the U.S. and Russia reached without Ukraine’s input, says The New York Times.

  • Kyiv remained wary that the summit would lead to a backroom deal between Moscow and Washington.

Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gave the first high-level response from the Ukrainian government in an interview with Reuters.

  • “We agreed with the United States that no deals on Ukraine will be made without Ukraine, and America kept its promise,” Kuleba said via Reuters.

The topic of Ukraine’s NATO membership remains undecided, says Yahoo News.