Biden and European leaders discuss Putin's 'brutal tactics' in Ukraine war

US president spoke with leaders of France, Italy, Germany and Britain on Monday at start of a crucial week for the West

US President Joe Biden will meet Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday. EPA
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US President Joe Biden and European allies discussed Russia's “brutal tactics” in Ukraine on Monday, kicking off a crucial week in the western standoff with Moscow, with Mr Biden visiting Poland after attending Nato and EU summits.

Mr Biden hosted the call, lasting a little under an hour, with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “to discuss their co-ordinated responses”, the White House said.

“The leaders discussed their serious concerns about Russia’s brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

“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 the violence.

“The leaders also reviewed recent diplomatic efforts in support of Ukraine’s effort to reach a ceasefire.”

Mr Johnson meanwhile “underlined his horror” at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of “increasingly brutal tactics in Ukraine, such as siege warfare and the targeting of civilians”, a Downing Street statement read.

“He welcomed the unity of allies standing steadfastly against Russia’s reprehensible behaviour, noting how effective collective action has been in undermining Putin’s war machine.”

Mr Biden is set to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday.

US Vice President Kamala Harris also met Mr Duda in Warsaw earlier this month, with both condemning Russia's military action, especially against civilians.

Poland, which shares a 500-kilometre border with Ukraine and is now host to about two million refugees, has been a key ally of Washington throughout the conflict.

Poland has joined other Nato countries in sending more than 20,000 shoulder-launched anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, rushed into the country after Russia invaded on February 24.

Warsaw has also been in stalled talks with the US to supply MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, but analysts say the Polish proposal is fraught with complexity and Washington has rejected initial proposals.

Russia is now subject to stringent international sanctions that could result in its economy contracting by at least 7 per cent.

The Institute of International Finance predicted an even worse contraction of 15 per cent earlier this month, but western allies are still discussing ways to enact even tighter trade restrictions.

“The president will discuss how the United States, alongside our allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia's unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

“The trip will be focused on continuing to rally the world in support of the Ukrainian people and against President Putin's invasion of Ukraine.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, along with the Czech and Slovenian prime ministers, travelled to Kyiv to visit the besieged capital last week.

The UN has estimated about 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, with about one third of them going abroad, mostly to Poland.

Updated: March 21, 2022, 10:44 PM