The first-ever official meeting between President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has been scheduled to take place on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, both the White House and the Kremlin have confirmed.
Biden has met with Putin before in other official capacities, including as Barack Obama’s Vice President in 2009-2017.
As she announced the meeting, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared that Biden and Putin were going to discuss all “pressing issues” on the bilateral agenda.
In her words, they would be seeking to make the US – Russian relations stable and predictable.
In its own statement about the upcoming Biden – Putin summit in Switzerland, the Kremlin said the agenda would include strategic stability and “acute problems” such as the COVID-19 pandemic and regional conflicts around the globe.
Navalny and Nord Steam 2
Earlier this year, the Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Russia over the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny who barely survived an attempt on his life with a nerve agent last August, and who is currently held in a prison colony near Moscow.
Another topic of controversy is of course - Nord Stream 2.
Biden has been criticized for his alleged intention to remove the US sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany.
Earlier, the State Department has recognized that the Nord Stream 2 project and its CEO deserve to be sanctioned, however, the DOS is abstaining from doing so due to what it says are ‘US national interests’.
The man in question, Nord Stream 2 CEO, is a man named Matthias Warnig.
He is a close associate of former KGB officer Putin and is himself a former operative of Stasi, the intelligence of the former communist East Germany.
Biden vs. Putin - Round 2
Until recently, there had been a full bipartisan consensus in Washington in favor of heavy sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project.
Earlier this year, shortly after taking office, Biden told ABC News in an interview that he considered Putin “a killer”.
That sparked the outrage of the Russian leader who challenged the US President to a live, uninterrupted streaming debate, a call that Biden never responded to.
Putin in return said he wished Biden “good health,” and stated that Russia knew how to defend its interests, and would work with the US only in the areas in which it has the interest to do so.
Regarding Biden’s accusation of being a killer, the Russian President resorted to using a children’s chant popular in Russia to the meaning of “takes one to know one.”
Asked by a reporter at the time to comment on Putin’s live debate invitation for Biden, White House press secretary Psaki, in essence, turned down the offer.
She argued that the US government was engaging with the Russian leaders on all levels, on a regular basis, and insisted that Biden had just had a telephone conversation with Putin.
Media reports have attributed a vast Russian military build-up along the borders of Ukraine as a reaction by an offended Putin.
Moscow drew down its threat to invade Ukraine only after in another phone call Biden proposed to Putin a bilateral summit in a third country – such as the one that is now going to take place in Geneva.