Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin kicked off their summit on Wednesday with a handshake in entrance of the Geneva villa, the place the 2 presidents plan to conflict over the worst tensions between the US and Russia in years.
Following an introduction by his host, Swiss President Man Parmelin, Biden prolonged his arm for his first handshake with Putin since taking workplace in January.
“It is at all times higher to satisfy face-to-face,” Biden stated as the 2 males sat down with their high diplomats, kicking off the summit, the place the ghosts of the Chilly Warfare loomed over modern-day US considerations about Russian cyberattacks and what the White Home. see it as a harmful authoritarian drift.
On a optimistic word, Putin stated he anticipated the “assembly to be productive” when tete-a-tete opened.
The setting, a luxurious villa overlooking Lake Geneva, could also be picturesque, however count on a grueling diplomatic showdown that would last as long as 5 hours, with no deliberate meal breaks.
“There will probably be no breaking of bread,” stated a senior US official.
The selection of Geneva, after prolonged negotiations between the US and Russia, is paying homage to the Chilly Warfare summit between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev within the Swiss metropolis in 1985.
The villa, surrounded by a lush park, was beneath intense safety. Grey patrol boats sailed alongside the lake shore and closely armed camouflaged troops stood guard at a close-by marina.
The basic villa’s symmetrical design had made it potential to divide it equally in order that each leaders might have entry to precisely the identical quantity of area, a Geneva protocol official advised Swiss public broadcaster RTS.
In distinction to 1985, the tensions have much less to do with strategic nuclear weapons and competing ideologies than with what the Biden administration sees as an more and more hostile and rule-breaking regime.
From cyberattacks in opposition to US entities and meddling within the final two US presidential elections, to human rights violations and assaults in opposition to Ukraine and different European international locations, Washington’s checklist of complaints in opposition to the Kremlin is lengthy.
Putin, nonetheless, got here to the summit arguing that Moscow is just difficult US hegemony, a part of an try to advertise a so-called “multipolar” world that has seen Russia method America’s arguably much more highly effective adversary, China. .
Biden, who ended a primary intensive journey overseas as president, arrived in Geneva after summits with NATO and the European Union in Brussels, and a G7 summit in Britain.
When requested if he was prepared for Putin, Biden smiled and stated, “I am at all times prepared.”
Optimism? ‘Not a lot’
In an interview with NBC, Putin scoffed at US accusations of soiled tips overseas and authoritarian crackdowns at residence.
Along with denying any connection to what the US says are Russia-based hacking and ransomware gangs, Putin refused to take part within the deaths of a lot of his opponents throughout 20 years in energy.
Addressing one of many major irritants in relations with Washington and the European Union, Putin insisted that he additionally can’t be blamed for the near-fatal poisoning and subsequent incarceration of Alexei Navalny, one of many few essential figures within the EU. opposition remaining in Russia.
Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s overseas affairs adviser, advised reporters in Moscow that the connection between the US and Russia was “at a useless finish.”
“There’s not a lot” trigger for optimism, he added.
Equally, the Biden crew doesn’t count on “an amazing set of deliverables,” the senior Biden official stated.
Biden says his major purpose is just to set clear “pink strains” for what the White Home will now not tolerate from Moscow.
“I’m not on the lookout for battle,” he stated in Brussels after the NATO summit, however “we’ll reply if Russia continues its dangerous actions.”
Biden, who had beforehand characterised Putin as a “assassin”, elevated the Russian chief to a “robust” and “worthy adversary.”
Getting into the summit, Biden has emphasised that he has the backing of his Western companions.
Russia was one of many major subjects on the NATO summit in Brussels, the place the protection alliance warned that Russian navy build-ups on the sting of Jap Europe “more and more threaten the safety of the Euro-Atlantic space and contribute to instability to alongside the borders of NATO and past. “
However regardless of all of the rhetoric, the White Home and the Kremlin say they’re open to doing enterprise on a restricted foundation.
Officers level to the latest extension of the New START nuclear arms limitation treaty for instance of profitable diplomacy.
In keeping with Russian and US officers, a potential small step could possibly be a fast reestablishment of the 2 international locations’ ambassadors, who returned residence this yr in response to the tensions.
Officers from the 2 sides say that Biden and Putin will initially meet solely with translators and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov. Then they may change to a bigger format.
Nonetheless, not like in 2018, when Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump met Putin in Helsinki, there will probably be no joint press convention on the finish.
The US aspect clearly desires to keep away from the view that Biden shares that sort of platform with the Russian president.
In 2018, Trump triggered a stir by saying, whereas Putin was by his aspect, that he believed the Kremlin chief over his personal intelligence providers when it got here to allegations of Russian interference within the 2016 U.S. presidential election that introduced Trump to energy. .
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