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Putin accepts Biden's invitation to virtual climate summit

April 19, 2021

Despite tensions between Washington and Moscow, the Russian president has agreed to take part in an online conference on the climate crisis.

Vladimir Putin takes a hike in the wilderness
Russian President Vladimr Putin will attend and address a virtual climate summit hosted by US President BidenImage: Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin Pool/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

Even as relation fray between them, US President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin agreed to address the worsening climate crisis in a virtual conference on Thursday. Dozens of other national leaders are also set to attend.

"Vladimir Putin will outline Russia's approaches within the context of establishing broad-ranging international cooperation aimed at overcoming the negative consequences of global climate change," the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday.

President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders to the online climate summit, including Xi Jinping of China, as part of his focus on addressing global warming.

Putin's attendance signals that he is still open to dialogue with the United States despite a flurry of new sanctions.

Moscow confirmed Putin's participation amid diplomatic clashes with Washington and the European Union over jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the conflict in Ukraine.  

The planet as common ground

Relations between the US and both China and Russia have slumped to new post-Cold War lows since Biden took office in January.

However, the new administration has used the growing climate emergency as a way to find middle ground.

Russia and the US succeeded in holding climate negotiations earlier this year. The two nations identified forest fires, nuclear energy and the Arctic as areas of cooperation.

Russia's economy is still highly dependent on fossil fuels. However, Russian weather officials have acknowledged that increasingly destructive Siberian fires and historic declines in summer sea ice in the Arctic could be partially traced back to climate change.

Kerry (R) meets via video link with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng
US Climate Envoy John Kerry has already talked about the environment with Chinese officials last weekImage: Zhang Ling/Xinhua/AP/picture alliance

President Biden's special envoy for Climate, John Kerry, met with Chinese officials over the weekend to personally invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to the summit.

Previous talks between Chinese and US delegates in Alaska yielded little more than an agreement to work jointly on climate issues

Will there be more bilateral meetings?

The US president also announced he wants to meet Putin face to face in Europe this summer to discuss their strained relations.

Putin has not yet indicated whether he will accept the offer.

mb/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)