WATCH LIVE: President Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin
GENEVA (AP) – Fresh out of support summits with allies, Joe Biden said he was ready on Tuesday to face Russian Vladimir Putin in much more divisive talks – a decisive end to his youngster’s most important meeting week presidency.
The event is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. Watch the meeting in the player above.
Biden is meeting for his first talks as president with the Russian leader on Wednesday, in what is expected to be about a half-day of talks between the two leaders and their aides behind closed doors. This is after spending much of a week-long trip to Europe – the highlight of his presidency’s foreign policy so far – working to strengthen ties with like-minded partner countries in order to better deal with its rivals, Russia and China.
A reporter shortly after Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday shouted a question as to whether he was ready for Wednesday’s talks. “I’m always ready,” Biden replied.
The US leader arrived in Geneva after series of cordial nudges, smiling photo ops and close consultations with world leaders at the Group of Seven, NATO and US summits and the United States. European Union. He obtained a series of joint statements expressing his concerns over Russia and China, and was at the EU on Tuesday to preside over the announcement of a breakthrough easing a long-standing trade dispute over US planes with that bloc.
As for Russia, the US and the EU have said they “remain united in our principled approach” to the longtime rival, “ready to respond decisively to its repeated pattern of negative behaviors and harmful activities ”.
Biden’s European tour was aimed at restoring the American partnerships that were damaged under former President Donald Trump, who openly invited what US intelligence services called Russian interference in US political campaigns, and who sought out Putin and other autocrats he considered strong.
READ MORE: Biden arrives in Geneva ahead of Putin’s highly anticipated meeting
In keeping with the so far icy Biden-Putin relationship – Putin’s government reacted with outrage earlier this year after Biden said he viewed the Russian as a “killer” – the two are not planning either lunch or dinner. dinner together, and no joint press conference afterwards, in what should be their four to five hours together.
This contrasts with this week’s G-7 session hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where allies and their wives hosted a beach barbecue and a series of ‘family photos’.
According to a senior administration official who was granted anonymity to disclose internal talks, Biden hopes to find small areas of agreement with the Russian president, including potential ambassadors in Washington and Moscow.
This and other diplomatic issues, including expulsions of diplomats and the closure of consulates, will be high on the agendas of both sides.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, a rare holdover from the Trump administration, and Anatoly Antonov, Russian Ambassador to Washington, will both be in Geneva for the summit.
Both men stepped down earlier this year in what Russia and the United States describe as a historic low in relations between the two countries.
In addition, Russia has been complaining for years about his deportation and the loss of its consulates in San Francisco and Seattle and other facilities in Maryland and New York. The United States, meanwhile, has been forced to close its consulate in St. Petersburg and now faces the loss of Russian citizens employed by its embassy in Moscow, which will drastically reduce the consular services it is able to provide. provide.
Biden is also looking to make progress on a new arms control deal between the two countries, which agreed to a five-year extension of the current pact remaining in January.
Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov has sought to moderate expectations for the summit, but has strongly underlined its importance given the current tensions.
“This is the first such meeting to take place at a time when bilateral relations are extremely bad,” he said. “Both sides realize it is time to start dealing with the problems that have built up.”
LOOK: Why Navalny poses a particular challenge to Putin’s leadership
Biden plans to raise issues ranging from cyber attacks to Putin’s treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned and then jailed in what was seen as political retribution for exposing alleged Kremlin corruption and leading a anti-Putin protest movement.
In Geneva, a few dozen Navalny supporters took to a sunny plaza on Tuesday, and murals of a smiling Navalny holding his fingers in the shape of a heart, with the words “Héros de notre temps” in French, made their mark. appearance around the Swiss city in recent days. These refer to a similar fresco in St. Petersburg, Russia, which authorities quickly covered up.
Syria, where Russia is threatening to close the last humanitarian passage into that country, is also on the leaders’ agenda.
Biden this week called Putin a “worthy adversary” and said he hoped to find areas of cooperation with the Russian president. But he also warned that if Russia continued with cyber attacks and other aggressive acts against the United States, “we would react in the same way.”
Biden enters Wednesday’s talks strengthened not only by words of support from European allies, but by tangible news of a major breakthrough in a 17-year trade dispute centered on rival subsidies for aircraft makers.
At nearly every stop this week, the President repeated his message that “America is back”, hoping to convince both allies and rivals that the United States is committed and strong at the level. international after Trump’s isolationist presidency and the political upheaval that culminated in violence on Capitol Hill last January.
Political sniping continued. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy accused the Democratic president of relying on Putin on his overseas trip and weakening America.
“I don’t care to flirt with Europe and think you’re one of them,” McCarthy said, a day after Biden called Republicans “fractured.”
The EU and the US agreed on Tuesday to establish what their statement called a “high-level dialogue” on Russia to counter what they called Moscow’s drift towards deeper authoritarianism and sentiment. anti-western.
At the same time, the EU27 is divided in its approach to Moscow. Russia is the EU’s largest supplier of natural gas and plays a key role in international conflicts and key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
But the hope is that Biden’s meeting with Putin could bear fruit, and no one in Brussels wanted to undermine the display of international unity that has been displayed at the G-7 and NATO summits, officials say. of the EU.
Ellen Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press editors Matthew Lee and Jamie Keaten in Geneva, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed.