Joe Biden to meet Russian Vladimir Putin in Switzerland on June 16
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland on June 16, a high-stakes summit amid growing tensions between Moscow and Washington.
The meeting – the first face-to-face session between the two leaders since Biden became president – will focus on a “full range of urgent problems”, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday.
US-Russian relations have been strained since Biden came to power.
The White House sanctions imposed on Russia in March on the poisoning and detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Biden administration hit Moscow with another round of sanctions in April, accusing the Kremlin of meddling in the 2020 US election and involvement in the SolarWinds cyberattack, which violated a wave of US federal agencies and private companies.
In the latter case, the White House has sanctioned more than three dozen individuals and businesses and expelled 10 Russian diplomats. Russia responded by expelling 10 US diplomats, among other retaliatory measures, as the confrontation with Washington escalated.
Biden said he warned Putin that the United States “could have gone further” in responding to cyber attacks, “but I chose not to. I chose to be proportionate.”
Biden said he was not looking to “start a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable and predictable relationship.”
Biden sees next month’s meeting “as a chance to offer Russia an off-ramp from the rogue road,” Brett Bruen, a former State Department diplomat, said in a tweet after Tuesday’s announcement. . Putin sees it “as an opportunity to show that he can once again accelerate beyond the West’s efforts to rule him.”
Biden’s national security team sought to ease tensions ahead of the leader-to-leader summit. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart last week in Iceland and described areas of cooperation, including tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling climate change and taming the nuclear ambitions of the ‘Iran.
But the June meeting, scheduled for Geneva, is sure to be tense. During an interview with ABC News in March, Biden was asked if he thought Putin was a killer.
“Yes,” replied the president.
The personal clashes were not limited to the American side. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin’s government waged a disinformation campaign against Biden in the 2020 election, aimed at tarnishing him with corruption allegations.
Psaki said Biden would use the meeting to discuss a range of topics, from arms control to U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression.
The Biden-Putin tensions mark a radical departure from President Donald Trump’s more friendly relations with the Russian strongman.
Contribution: Joey Garrison and Courtney Subramanian