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«Brutal Tactics» : Biden, EU Leaders Slam Russian Offensive In Ukraine.

'Brutal Tactics': Biden, EU Leaders Slam Russian Offensive In Ukraine

Leaders underscored their continued support for Ukraine, including by providing security assistance.

Washington:

President Joe Biden and European allies discussed Russia's "brutal" war in Ukraine on Monday, kicking off a crucial week in the Western standoff with Moscow that will see Biden visit Poland after attending NATO and EU summits.

Biden hosted the call, lasting just under one hour, with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson "to discuss their coordinated responses," the White House said.

"The leaders discussed their serious concerns about Russia's brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians," a White House statement said.

"They underscored their continued support for Ukraine, including by providing security assistance to the brave Ukrainians who are defending their country from Russian aggression, and humanitarian assistance to the millions of Ukrainians who have fled," it said.

On Wednesday, Biden will depart on the most momentous foreign trip of his presidency to date. He attends the twin summits on Thursday in Brussels, then meets President Andrzej Duda in Poland, on the frontline of the West's confrontation with Russia, Saturday.

Russia's war is about to enter its second month, and US and Western allies have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow, crippling the ruble and stock market, while going after President Vladimir Putin's wealthy supporters.

On the ground in Ukraine, Western-supplied weapons, backed by years of training and funding, have helped the country's military to bloody the Russian invaders on multiple fronts.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden's mission was to make sure the West maintains closed ranks.

"Unity has been front and center for the president," Psaki said. "Unity with our European counterparts, unity among NATO, unity among the G7. And that doesn't happen by accident. And so, coming out of this what the president is hoping to achieve is continued coordination and a unified response to the continued escalatory actions of Putin."

However, with the war starting to look like a stalemate, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is making increasingly desperate appeals for the West to do more.

- Hard decisions -

What those additional steps could be remains far from obvious.

One big hole in the sanctions regime is China, the world's second biggest economy. Beijing is refusing even to condemn ally Russia and a nearly two-hour talk between Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday appeared to result in no change.

While the sanctions have sent severe shockwaves through Russia's economy, US and especially European economies -- which rely heavily on Russian energy imports -- are likewise vulnerable.

The United States and Britain have already announced their own bans on Russian oil imports. A wider ban by EU countries would mark a huge escalation hurting Moscow -- but also Western consumers.

Brent North Sea crude traded at $114.55 a barrel early Monday and earlier this month hit $139, up from about $79 at the beginning of the year.

A broad oil embargo "will hit everyone," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned.

Neither is there an easy path to significantly upgrading Ukraine's military.

Zelensky is pleading for more powerful tools beyond the effective but limited anti-tank rockets and Stinger missiles used to hit low flying aircraft.

But Biden has firmly rejected Zelensky's calls for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone, saying this would require the United States to go to war against Russia.

The alliance has also stumbled over a failed push by Poland to send Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine through a US air base. Again, Washington said this would risk Russia declaring that NATO had actively entered the war.

Now, there is growing discussion about furnishing Ukraine with another piece of Russian-origin technology -- the S-300 anti-aircraft system. This would be a step up for Ukraine's defenders, because the missiles can hit planes at high altitude.

Slovakia says it is willing to provide the system it has in its arsenal to Ukraine, but only if NATO provides a replacement for its own defense.

One thing Biden won't be doing this week, the White House says, is making a trip to Kyiv himself.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, along with the Czech and Slovenian prime ministers, traveled to the embattled capital last week. But "there are no plans to travel into Ukraine," Psaki said, citing security concerns.

There is speculation, however, that Biden could meet with some of the nearly 3.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine while he's in Poland.

Psaki said that the refugee issue would be "a key component" of his trip.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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