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"We'll see": US President Joe Biden over Russia's pledge to dial back operations in Kyiv

US and Western officials have expressed scepticism about Russia's decision on early Tuesday that it would scale back operations to boost ongoing talks between Ukraine and Russian officials in Turkey.

We ll see: US President Joe Biden over Russias pledge to dial back operations in Kyiv - adt
Washington D.C., First Published Mar 30, 2022, 9:45 AM IST

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday stated that he isn't convinced that Russia's decision to reduce the military operations near Ukraine's capital of Kyiv will result in a fundamental shift in the war. 

While in bilateral talks at the White House, Biden told Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that he was waiting to see what Russia offers in ongoing talks with Ukraine and how Moscow adjusted its troop presence. 

US and Western officials have expressed scepticism about Russia's decision on early Tuesday that it would scale back operations to boost ongoing talks between Ukraine and Russian officials in Turkey. 

Biden stated, "We'll see." Adding that, he's not reading anything into it until he sees the action. 

Joe Biden expressed his concern about the latest development after meeting with Lee for talks in which he sought to reassure Singapore and other Pacific allies that his administration is still focused on the Indo-Pacific region, even as it deals with the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At the beginning of the meeting with Lee, Biden stated that it was important that his administration focused on working on bolstering relations with Singapore and other nations in the region. 

The president has prioritised adjusting US foreign policy to reflect the rise of America's most significant military and economic competitor, China; however, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has complicated the effort.

Biden stated that even as they deal with the European crisis, his administration is firmly in favour of moving quickly to implement the Indo-Pacific strategy. 

The two leaders further discussed the relationship between the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also promoting the return of democracy in Myanmar following last year's military coup and advancing regional economic growth.

Biden stated that he and lee discussed the situation in Ukraine and "freedom of the seas," a point of particular importance in the region given Beijing's territorial claims over the majority of the South China Sea.

The timing of Biden's visit, Lee said, highlighted his commitment to the region, and the US will "strengthen its strategic interests in the region."

Lee stated that he's sure that Biden is absolutely engrossed with what's going on in Europe at the moment. However, he added that they are very grateful for the time you are devoting to Singapore and Southeast Asian countries in general, particularly ASEAN. 

Biden's national security team was pleased that Singapour and other Pacific partners, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, reacted quickly to impose sanctions on Russia after the invasion.

Lee highlighted that the war in Ukraine has implications for the Asia Pacific region, which appears to reference China's threats against Taiwan. Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, there were growing concerns about Beijing's calculations regarding Taiwan.

As per Biden administration officials, Chinese President Xi Jinping has closely monitored US and Western reactions to the Russian invasion.

Officials from the White House have also stated that China has offered Moscow military and economic assistance in prosecuting the war.

Any conflict over the self-governing island democracy is likely to involve the United States, which is legally obligated to ensure Taiwan's ability to defend itself and regards threats to the island as grave concerns.

The Biden administration has repeatedly emphasised its 'One China' policy, which recognises Beijing as the Chinese government; however, it allows for informal relations and defence ties with Taipei.

Biden cleared that the US firmly opposes China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Lee stated that there are potential flashpoints and contentious issues in their region; if failed to manage well, they could escalate to open conflict. 

Countries with interests in the region must make every effort to resolve disagreements peacefully to avoid reaching a point of no return, Lee stated. 

Singapore, which waits for UN approval before imposing sanctions, has imposed restrictions on some exports and a ban on financial institutions doing business with Russian banks.

Biden thanked Lee for being a trustworthy ally, stating the island "punches way above its weight."

This week, Biden was supposed to host several ASEAN national leaders; however, the summit was postponed. In August, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and announced agreements on cybersecurity, climate change, and supply chain issues.

The president stated that the ASEAN summit would still be held this spring.

Also Read: Russia-Ukraine crisis: 10 latest developments

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Also Read: Ukraine invited to NATO summit on April 6-7, to be held in Brussels

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