Biden-Putin Summit Set For June 16 Amid Escalating Tensions
By RFE/RL May 25, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden will meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva on June 16 in what will be the first meeting of the two leaders since Biden took office.
Statements from the capitals of both countries on May 25 announced the meeting, which comes amid escalating tensions between the United States and Russia.
"The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship," the White House said in a statement.
In its own statement, the Kremlin said it "intends to discuss the state and prospects of further development of Russian-American relations, problems of strategic stability, as well as topical issues on the international agenda, including interaction in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts."
In March, Biden said he believed Putin was a "killer," which prompted a diplomatic dispute that led to Moscow recalling its ambassador to Washington for consultations.
Biden first proposed a summit in a call with Putin in April as his administration prepared to levy sanctions against Russian officials for the second time during the first three months of his presidency.
White House officials have said that they were ironing out details for the summit. National security-adviser Jake Sullivan discussed details of the meeting when he met with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev.
The White House has repeatedly said it is seeking a "stable and predictable" relationship with Russia, while also calling out Putin on allegations that Moscow interfered in last year's U.S. presidential election and that the Kremlin was behind a hacking campaign -- commonly referred to as the SolarWinds hack -- in which Russian hackers infected widely used software with malicious code, enabling them to access the networks of at least nine U.S. agencies.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on May 25 said Biden will discuss Belarus's forced landing of a Ryanair plane and the detention of an opposition activist during his summit with Putin.
Psaki said Biden also plans to discuss Ukraine during the summit. Russia seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and Russian-backed separatists took control of a chunk of eastern Ukraine that same year.
In recent months, Russia, in what it called a defensive exercise, massed troops on its western border with Ukraine and in Crimea.
The Biden administration has also criticized Russia for the arrest and jailing of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and publicly acknowledged that it has low to moderate confidence that Russian agents were offering bounties to the Taliban to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The two men have met previously but not since Biden was inaugurated as president in January.
With reporting by AP, TASS, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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