Further diplomacy not ruled out in Biden-Putin Ukraine call - nor was risk of war

It appears there was no real breakthrough in the hour-long call. Credit: White House/AP

President Biden and President Putin are old adversaries.

Today’s call is one of the many they have shared at times of global crisis.

When Russian adventurism threatened Ukraine in 2014, then-Vice President Biden was made President Obama’s point man.

He travelled to Moscow to meet directly with Mr Putin, his belief then likely the same as his belief now. That big countries ought not to beat up smaller ones, especially when they had given their word not to.

That word had been given in 1994 when Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons programme, in return for a guarantee from the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia to respect its borders and sovereignty.

His trip then was not enough to protect those borders. His call today may not be either.

That is certainly the mood music coming from the administration.

The call which lasted an hour and two minutes produced “no fundamental change in the dynamics” and the situation on Ukraine’s borders suggests no evidence of de-escalation, or interest in de-escalation.

American warnings of "swift and severe costs" should Russia further encroach Ukrainian territory seemingly not enough to deter.

The chance for more diplomacy was not ruled out, nor was the risk of war.