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Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet face-to-face on June 15
PoliticsEurope

Biden, Putin to hold first summit on June 16

May 25, 2021

US President Joe Biden is to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time since entering the White House. The pair will hold a summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 15-16.

https://p.dw.com/p/3tw2b

US President Joe Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva next month, the White House said Tuesday, in what will be the first summit between the pair since the American president took office.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the leaders would "discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship."

Ties between Washington and Moscow have become strained since the departure of Donald Trump from the White House amid differences over the fate of jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and Russia's stance on Ukraine.

A poster of Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg
The US has been pushing for the release of jailed opposition figure Alexei NavalnyImage: Ivan Petrov/picture-alliance/AP Photo

A statement from the Kremlin said the leaders would "discuss the current status and prospects of Russian-American relations, issues of strategic stability, as well as issues on the international agenda, including cooperation to fight the coronavirus pandemic and resolve regional conflicts."

Rare trip abroad for US president

Biden is making his first trip to Europe as president to attend G7 and NATO summits in June, which are being held in the UK and Belgium respectively.

Biden served as vice president during the Obama administration that tried to "reset" its relationship with Russia over the course of two terms. But the Russian annexation of Crimea two years before the end of Obama's second and final term blew those efforts off course.

Back in March, Biden angered Russian officials for saying in a TV interview that Moscow would "pay the price" for allegedly trying to interfere in the US elections.

Russia recalled its ambassador to the United States in response to the comments.

Both leaders have signaled an interest in negotiating and signing a new nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Prominent political analyst: Summit 'no surprise'

Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov in Reykjavík
Blinken and Lavrov have held talks on some of the key issues both countries are facingImage: Saul Loeb/AP Photo/picture alliance

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Iceland at a meeting of the Arctic Council.

It was the first meeting between the two top diplomats since the start of the Biden administration.

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group political risk research and consulting company, told DW that it was no surprise that either side ultimately agreed to a sit-down.

"I think they [Russia] like the prestige that comes from a one-on-one sit down with President Biden. It makes them feel more like equals, which, of course, is the way they want to be portrayed internationally," Bremmer said, while describing Biden as "happy" with the idea, given the tensions with China and despite "the surprise complication of this blow-up with Belarus over the last few days." 

Bremmer said that he expected cyber-security and Ukraine to be difficult points in the talks, but also added there was scope for progress in areas like nuclear arms control and climate change.

In addition, he suggested that President Alexander Lukashenko's forcing a European airliner to land in Belarus might poison the well less than some would expect. 

"It's interesting that Putin has basically summoned the Belarusian president to come to Sochi to meet next week. I suspect that's not going to be the easiest meeting for the Belarusian president," Bremmer said.

jf/msh (AP, Reuters)