U.S. pulls more diplomatic staff from Ukraine, Biden and Putin expected to speak

Coming out of their meeting in Beijing, Putin and Xi called for an end to NATO expansion as part of what The New Yorker describes as “a pact against America.”

“The world’s two most powerful autocrats unveiled a sweeping long-term agreement that also challenges the United States as a global power, NATO as a cornerstone of international security, and liberal democracy as a model for the world.”

Exactly what action China might take in a Ukraine conflict isn’t clear, but just as economic and trade sanctions are the biggest non-military lever available the U.S. and Europe, an alliance with China provides Russia the possibility of retaliatory sanctions in a tit-for-tat series  that could make the supply chain issues during the pandemic seem quaint.

The agreement between Moscow and Beijing is more detailed and definitive than past statements, most of which have been heavy on rhetoric, but light on action. Robert Daly, the director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, described the statement as something that, “might be looked back on as the beginning of Cold War Two.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. has explicitly not taken the idea of sending American forces into Ukraine off the table. That includes sending forces recently positioned in Poland across the border to assist in any evacuation. They are also setting up tent camps in Poland in anticipation of those fleeing conflict in Ukraine.

Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the nation’s defense minister continue to call for calm and insist that Ukrainian armed forces are, “ready to repel any attack.” Weapons and supplies from the U.S. and other allies continue to arrive in Kyiv. That includes new shipments of U.S. anti-tank weapons.

The conversation between President Biden and Putin is expected to take place at 11AM ET.  Later on Saturday, Putin is also expected to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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