Trouble ahead? Russia, US in Black Sea showdown over Ukraine

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE © FRANCE 24

Is it a case of Putin putting Biden to the test over Ukraine? With two US warships headed to the Black Sea in response to a Russian troop build-up at the border, Moscow is announcing live fire drills in the same waters while Ukraine trumpets land manoeuvres for its military. We ask about a neighborhood that's getting crowded and the timing of the sudden spike in tensions less than three months into the Biden presidency.

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On that score, we also ask about the US leader's Tuesday phone call with Vladimir Putin, only the second since Inauguration Day and that offer of a summit at a neutral venue. The suggestion was followed up with the US ambassador being invited to talks at the Kremlin this Wednesday. Is it a simple testing of wills or much more?

As a priority, Ukraine waxes and wanes on Moscow's mind. Many ordinary Russians say they feel an ownership over the whole of Ukraine, not just the two Donbas province where the Kremlin's backing a low-level insurgency. Again, it's the question of why now and whether Putin really is picking a fight?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

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