Russian and US presidents will head into Ukraine as the tensions between the two countries over Ukraine have heightened.

Iran PressEurope: Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have a chasm of mutual distrust to bridge when they hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday in the shadow of tensions over Ukraine.

"A lamentable state," was how the Kremlin described relations ahead of the extended video conference call, which it expects to start around 1500 GMT (1000 a.m. ET).

Washington has accused Russia of massing troops near the border with Ukraine to intimidate an aspiring NATO member, suggesting it could be a repeat of Moscow's 2014 playbook, when it seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine. It says the West is ready with tough sanctions if Russia invades, Reuters reported.

The Kremlin has rejected the idea that its forces are poised to invade as fear-mongering and has said its troops move around its own territory for purely defensive purposes.

For Moscow, the growing NATO embrace of a neighboring former Soviet republic - and what it sees as the nightmare possibility of alliance missiles in Ukraine targeted against Russia - is a "red line" it will not allow to be crossed.

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Putin has demanded legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not expand further east or place its weapons close to Russian territory; Washington has repeatedly said no country can veto Ukraine's NATO hopes.

"I don't accept anybody's red lines," Biden said on Friday.

A senior US administration official told reporters on Monday that Biden would warn Putin of severe economic consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine, and stressed that the US was not seeking a scenario that included US military action.

Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, which is close to the Foreign Ministry, said the two men's positions were unlikely to be reconciled.

"The only thing they can probably agree on - if it turns out to be a good conversation – is that everybody directly or indirectly engaged there in the situation should demonstrate restraint and commitment to de-escalate. But otherwise I see no way how Biden can promise Putin that NATO will not go east."

Some Russian and US analysts have suggested the leaders could agree to set up de-escalation talks and the Kremlin has made clear it wants a new Putin-Biden summit next year.


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