US President Joe Biden will hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Geneva.
The face-to-face meeting between the two leaders comes amid escalating tensions between the US and Russia in the first months of the Biden administration.
The White House confirmed details of the summit on Tuesday. The two leaders’ meeting, set for June 16, is being tacked on to the end of Biden’s first international trip as president next month when he visits Britain for a meeting of Group of Seven leaders and Brussels for the NATO summit.
“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 in a statement announcing the summit.
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.
The Kremlin, in its own statement announcing the meeting, said that the presidents will discuss “the current state and prospects of the Russian-US relations, strategic stability issues and the acute problems on the international agenda, including interaction in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and settlement of regional conflicts.”
The White House has repeatedly said it is seeking a “stable and predictable” relationship with the Russians, while also calling out Putin on allegations that the Russians interfered in last year’s US presidential election and that the Kremlin was behind a hacking campaign — commonly referred to as the SolarWinds breach — in which Russian hackers infected widely used software with malicious code, enabling them to access the networks of at least nine US agencies.
The Biden administration has also criticized Russia for the arrest and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and publicly acknowledged that it has low to moderate confidence that Russian agents were offering bounties to the Taliban to attack US troops in Afghanistan.
Weeks into his presidency, Biden said in an address before State Department employees that he told Putin in their first call that he would be taking a radically different approach to Russia than Trump.
In March, Biden in an ABC News interview responded affirmatively when asked by interviewer George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Putin was “a killer.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Biden’s comment demonstrated he “definitely does not want to improve relations” with Russia and that relations between the countries were “very bad.”
Geneva last hosted American and Russian leaders in 1985, when President Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev — a summit considered short on substance but critical in breaking the ice between East and West and fostering what would become mostly friendly relations between the two men through their tenures.
A Biden-Putin meeting there could revive the reputation of the city as a hub for international diplomacy, a far cry from the Trump administration, which largely shunned its globalist institutions like the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. Biden’s administration has re-engaged with both of those organisations.