• Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:24 pm

Biden 'ready' for Putin after landing in Geneva

  • Published at 10:32 pm June 15th, 2021
US President Joe Biden smiles during a bilateral meeting with his Swiss counterpart (not pictured) in Geneva, on June 15, 2021 Reuters

Biden and Putin will huddle for hours on Wednesday at an elegant villa complex in Geneva

President Joe Biden landed on Tuesday in Geneva on the eve of his first summit with Vladimir Putin, a meeting the White House hopes will set clear "red lines" preventing the combustible US-Russia relationship from further deterioration.

"I'm always ready," Biden told reporters with a smile, when asked if he was prepared for the tense encounter.

Biden and Putin will huddle for hours on Wednesday at an elegant villa complex in Geneva, a setting reminiscent of the Cold War Reagan-Gorbachev summit in the Swiss city in 1985.

Talks at La Grange villa are expected to start at around 1100 GMT and last as long as five hours. Illustrating the frostiness of the session, the two leaders will not be sharing any kind of meal.

"There will be no breaking of bread," a senior US official said aboard Air Force One, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One of the few things both sides can agree on is that Russian-US relations are at about their lowest ebb since the distant days of the US-Soviet superpower standoff.

This time, tensions are less about strategic nuclear weapons and competing ideologies than what the Biden administration sees as an increasingly rogue, authoritarian Russian state.

From cyber attacks on US entities and meddling in the last two US presidential elections, to human rights violations and aggression against Ukraine and other European countries, the US list of allegations against the Kremlin runs long.

Putin, in an interview with NBC ahead of the summit, scoffed at US accusations.

Also Read - Biden and Putin summit: Where they disagree and where they might compromise

As well as denying any connection to what the US says are Russia-based hacking and ransomware gangs, Putin rejected having any hand in the deaths of many of his opponents during two decades in power.

Addressing one of the main irritants in relations with Washington and the European Union, Putin insisted he also could not be blamed for the near-fatal poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of one of the few remaining Russian opposition figures, Alexei Navalny.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin's foreign affairs adviser, told journalists in Moscow that the US-Russian relationship is "at an impasse" and "close to critical."

However, he said there were some grounds for optimism, albeit "not much."

Biden's team is equally downplaying chances of major change. Success, says the White House, would be just managing to lower the temperature and adopt a "predictable, stable" relationship.

The US side is "not expecting a big set of deliverables", the senior Biden official said.

Backed by allies

Biden -- flying into Geneva from Brussels after back-to-back summits with the EU, Nato and the G7 group of allies -- said he wants to establish clear "red lines" for what the White House will no longer tolerate.

"I'm not looking for conflict with Russia, but... we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities," Biden said after his Nato meeting on Monday.

In something of a pivot from his previous acknowledgement that he considers Putin to be a "killer," Biden upgraded the Russian leader to a "tough" and "worthy adversary."

Going into the summit, Biden has emphasized that he has the backing of his Western partners.

Russia was one of the top topics at the Nato summit in Brussels, where the military alliance warned that Russian military build-ups on the edge of eastern Europe "increasingly threaten the security of the Euro-Atlantic area and contribute to instability along Nato borders and beyond."

For all the bruising rhetoric, the White House is keen to emphasize that it wants to do business in a limited way with Russia. Officials point to the recent extension of the New START nuclear arms limitation treaty as an example of successful diplomacy.

According to Ushakov, one possible baby step might be a quick reinstatement of the two countries' ambassadors, who returned home this year in response to tensions.

Officials from the two sides say the leaders will initially meet with only translators and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

They will then switch to a larger format, with five officials accompanying each leader.

However, unlike in 2018, when Donald Trump met Putin, there will be no joint press conference.

The US side is clearly anxious to avoid the optics of having Biden sharing that kind of platform with the Kremlin leader, who will be accompanied by an all but uniformly loyal media entourage.

In 2018, Trump caused a stir by saying alongside Putin that he believed the Kremlin leader over his own intelligence services when it came to accusations of Russian interference in the US election.

Switzerland is running a massive security operation during the summit, with around 4,000 personnel deployed, while La Grange villa and its surrounding park have been fenced off.

Facebook 51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail