Biden, Putin to meet in Geneva on Jun 16
WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva on Jun 16, the White House said on Tuesday (May 25).
“The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
The Kremlin confirmed the summit details and said in a statement that Putin and Biden would be discussing “issues of strategic stability,” as well as “resolving regional conflicts” and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The face-to-face meeting with the Kremlin leader comes amid levels of tension not seen for years, with Washington now dialling back its ambitions to little more than establishing a relationship in which both sides understand each other and can work together in specific areas.
Since taking office, Biden has launched new sanctions against Moscow over what US authorities say was the Russian role in the massive Solar Winds cyber attack and repeated meddling in the 2020 presidential election.
Washington has also harshly criticized Moscow for the near-death poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of one of the last open opponents to Putin, Alexei Navalny.
And where Biden told an interviewer that he agreed with the description of Putin as a “killer,” the Russian government has formally declared the United States to be an “unfriendly” country.
Making his first international trip as president, Biden will go to Geneva immediately after separate summits with his key Western allies in the G7, NATO and the European Union.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the US and Russia are lowering expectations for big breakthroughs at the superpower summit, with the two countries in no mood to make concessions on their bitter disagreements.
To prepare the ground, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and veteran Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met last week in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the Blinken-Lavrov meeting that repairing ties “will not be easy” but he saw “a positive signal.”
Moscow welcomed a US decision to waive sanctions that had been holding up completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline – a major energy supply route from Russia to Europe that US officials worry will make the EU overdependent on the Russians.
The White House has been wary of describing Biden as seeking a “reset” in relations with Putin and US officials see a face-to-face as an opportunity to rebalance the relationship away from what they see as former President Donald Trump’s fawning overtures to Putin.
Russian officials told Reuters they see the summit as an opportunity to hear from Biden directly after what a source close to the Russian government said were mixed messages from the new US administration.