US President Joe Biden meets Russia's Vladimir Putin in Geneva
United States President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reached Geneva on Wednesday for a key diplomatic summit. The meeting is expected to last four-five hours. The two leaders plan to discuss from cybercrime to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, Russia's intrusion in Ukraine, and arms control. Biden is the fifth American President to sit down with Putin.
The summit will include several sessions. Seated in a library, Biden, Putin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were present during the first session, which has concluded. Before the summit, Putin said he hoped for a "productive" meeting. Biden said, "It's always good to meet face-to-face." Biden and Putin will hold solo press conferences after the summit.
According to a transcript from the Kremlin, Putin said to Biden, "I would like to thank you for your initiative in today's meeting." "I know you've had a long trip, a lot of work. Nevertheless, there are many issues in Russian-American relations that need to be discussed at the highest level, and I hope that our meeting will be productive."
A White House official confirmed that the two leaders have moved onto their second meeting, with five aides present on each side. Apart from Biden himself, the US side includes National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, and National Security Council Russia experts Eric Green and Stergos Kaloudis.
The Russian side is expected to include Lavrov, Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, Lavrov's deputy Sergei Ryabkov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military General Valery Gerasimov, and Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov. Reportedly, Kremlin envoys on Ukraine and Syria are also expected to attend along with Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Before the summit, Swiss President Guy Parmelin said in French, "On behalf of the Swiss government, I would like to welcome you to Geneva, the city of peace," addressing Biden and Putin. Parmelin said it was an "honor and a pleasure" for Switzerland to host, adding, "I wish you both a fruitful meeting in the interest of your two countries and the world."
The two leaders are at odds over multiple issues including cyber-hacking, election interference, Ukraine, arms control, etc. The relations deteriorated with Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its intervention in Syria, along with allegations of US election interference. Biden had also called Putin a "killer" in March. Russia then withdrew its ambassador to Washington for consultations. The US recalled its ambassador in April.