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Biden, German leader to discuss Ukraine at Feb. 7 meeting

Biden, German leader to discuss Ukraine at Feb. 7 meeting
The White House says President Joe Biden and new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss Russian aggression toward Ukraine when they meet next month

President Joe Biden and new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss Russian aggression toward Ukraine during a meeting next month in Washington the White House announced Thursday.

The one-on-one meeting will be Scholz’s first Oval Office sit-down since he took over leadership of his country in December.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks as the United States and its NATO partners express growing concern that a buildup of about 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine means that Moscow plans to invade its neighbor. Russia denies such intentions.

Germany’s refusal to join the U.S. and other NATO members in providing weapons to Ukraine has annoyed some allies and raised questions about Berlin’s resolve in standing up to Russia.

The White House announced the visit a day after the U.S. told Russia in writing that it is rejecting its main demands for resolving the long-simmering crisis over Ukraine. The Kremlin said Thursday the U.S. rejection left “little ground for optimism.”

Biden and Scholz will also discuss cooperation on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and economic and security issues, the White House said.

Scholz became Germany’s ninth post-World War II chancellor in December, opening a new era for the European Union’s most populous nation and largest economy following the 16-year tenure of Angela Merkel.