Next month, on June 16, President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva on their first summit. But this isn’t their first time meeting in person. Biden met with Putin in Moscow in March 2011.
Biden seeks a more “secure, predictable relationship” amid the two countries’ several points of contention.
A source familiar with the meeting told reporters on anonymity that Biden will meet with Putin after his first international trip as president, after a G7 meeting in the United Kingdom and a NATO summit in Belgium.
According to the source, the conference isn’t likely to result in any significant new policy deals. Still, the two leaders will head into the meeting with a lengthy agenda that includes nuclear weapons control, climate change, and Russia’s aggressive efforts to participate in international elections.
It would be the first standalone US-Russia summit since President Trump’s notorious meeting with Putin in Helsinki in 2018. Trump drew widespread criticism from politicians in both parties for openly siding with Putin when the Russian president dismissed US intelligence findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump and Putin last met in June 2019 on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka.
Biden and his foreign policy aides also discuss taking a more “clear-eyed” view of Putin’s efforts to destabilize democracies, impose pressure on Ukraine and other regional neighbors, and clamp down on protesters within Russian borders. However, Biden has also called for the two countries’ relationship to be more “positive and consistent.”
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As part of the latest endeavor, Biden briefed Putin privately before unveiling a recent round of sanctions against Russia, and used the same meeting to request an in-person summit.
Biden has long enjoyed face-to-face meetings with other politicians, and most foreign policy moves have been framed as an expansion of personal relationships.
Despite being thoroughly vaccinated before taking office, Biden followed stringent COVID-19 guidelines in the early months of his administration, in part to set a good example for Americans. As a result, he was forced to rely on simulated meetings with other world leaders, which were sometimes marred by technological bugs and uncomfortable camera setups.
Since then, Biden has held in-person White House meetings with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. The June European tour, which will culminate in the Geneva summit, will be Biden’s most comprehensive chance yet for the style of in-person diplomacy he has long conducted as vice president and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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