In 2001, US President George W. Bush stared into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and said he saw his soul. Joe Biden, on the other hand, famously claimed to have told the Russian leader, 'I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.'
Now the new incumbent of the Oval Office might have a second chance to check again in the flesh. On Tuesday, Biden held a rare and, by all accounts cordial, telephone call with his counterpart in Moscow to discuss the increasingly tense situation on the border with Ukraine. For months, Kiev's forces in the Donbass region have clashed with troops loyal to two Russian-backed breakaway republics, with numerous reports of drone strikes and civilian casualties.
Moscow has since deployed its army along the country’s eastern frontier and, as part of a surprise inspection earlier this week, the country’s defence minister said its units were combat ready and prepared to 'ensure Russia’s military security' in the event of an all-out conflict.