sunny.png
Monday October 18th, 2021 11:02AM

Face to face: June summit for Biden, Putin as tensions rise

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin agreed Tuesday to meet next month in Geneva, a face-to-face encounter the White House hopes will help bring some predictability to a fraught relationship that's only worsened in the first months of the Democratic administration.

The June 16 summit is being tacked on to the end of Biden's first international trip as president: He'll also visit Britain for a meeting of Group of Seven world leaders and attend a NATO summit in Brussels.

The agenda is expected to include discussion of Russian action in neighboring Ukraine, this week's forced diversion of a Lithuania-bound flight by Russian-ally Belarus, efforts by both nations to stem the coronavirus pandemic and more. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said no preconditions were set for the meeting.

The White House is setting low expectations for the meeting. It isn't expected to lead to any major breakthroughs — let alone the sort of reset of U.S.-Russian relations pursued by Biden's old boss, Barack Obama, or the curious bonhomie of the Donald Trump-Putin relationship.

Instead, officials say Biden — who as a candidate and early in his presidency has warned that he expects the relationship to remain complicated —- is looking to find some common ground with his adversary on the path forward.

The Kremlin, for its part, said the presidents will discuss “the current state and prospects of Russian-U.S. relations, strategic stability issues and the acute problems on the international agenda, including interaction in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and settlement of regional conflicts.”

Biden first proposed the summit in a call with Putin in April as his administration prepared to levy a second round of sanctions against Russian officials during his young presidency. And the U.S. levied more sanctions last week on Russian companies and ships for their work on a European natural gas pipeline called Nord Stream 2. U.S. officials say the pipeline threatens European energy security, heightens Russia’s influence and poses risks to Ukraine and Poland in bypassing both countries.

The White House has repeatedly said it is seeking a “stable and predictable" relationship with the Russians. At the same time, it has called out Putin on allegations that the Russians interfered in last year's U.S. presidential election and that the Kremlin was behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign in which Russian hackers infected widely used software with malicious code, enabling them to access the networks of at least nine U.S. agencies.

The Biden administration has also criticized Russia for the arrest and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and publicly acknowledged that it has low to moderate confidence that Russian agents were offering bounties to the Taliban to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Geneva with its bucolic vistas of the Mont Blanc peak — the highest in Western Europe — and a reputation as both a hub for international institutions and an icon of Switzerland’s much ballyhooed neutrality offers an intriguing backdrop for the summit.

The city last hosted American and Russian leaders in 1985, when President Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev — a summit considered short on substance but critical in fostering what would become mostly friendly relations between the two men through their tenures.

The Biden administration announced sanctions in March against several mid-level and senior Russian officials, along with more than a dozen businesses and other entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on Navalny in August 2020 and his subsequent jailing. Navalny returned to Russia days before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration and was quickly arrested.

Last month, the administration announced it was expelling 10 Russian diplomats and sanctioning dozens of Russia companies and individuals in response to the SolarWinds and election interference allegations.

But even as Biden moved forward with the latest round of sanctions, he acknowledged that he held back on taking tougher action — an attempt to send the message to Putin that he still held hope that the U.S. and Russia could come to an understanding for the rules of the game in their adversarial relationship.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, criticized Biden's decision to meet with Putin as “weak." He raised concerns about Russia's treatment of Navalny and tepid response to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Putin ally whose country this week ordered the diversion of a Greece-to-Lithuania commercial flight in order to arrest a dissident journalist.

The senator also criticized Biden for sparing ally Germany sanctions over Nord Stream 2, adamantly opposed by U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“We’re rewarding Putin with a summit?” Sasse said. “Instead of treating Putin like a gangster who fears his own people, we’re giving him his treasured Nord Stream 2 pipeline and legitimizing his actions with a summit."

Biden in a brief exchange with reporters Tuesday afternoon defended the decision to waive sanctions against Germany for the pipeline. He noted that it is nearly complete and that punishing an ally would have been “counterproductive."

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed news of the summit. “Diplomacy only has a chance if you talk to each other," Merkel said.

During his campaign for the White House, Biden described Russia as the “biggest threat” to U.S. security and alliances, and he disparaged Trump for his cozy relationship with Putin.

Trump avoided direct confrontation with Putin and often sought to play down the Russian leader’s malign actions. Their sole summit, held in July 2018 in Helsinki, was marked by Trump’s refusal to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Weeks into his presidency, Biden said in an address before State Department employees that he told Putin in their first call “that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions...are over."

In March, Biden in an ABC News interview responded affirmatively when asked by interviewer George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Putin was “a killer."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Biden's comment demonstrated he “definitely does not want to improve relations" with Russia.

___

Keaten reported from Geneva. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
1 killed as protesters scuffle with Iraqi security forces
Iraqi security officials and a rights monitor say a protester has died after being shot during clashes between demonstrators and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square
1:05PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Belarus' isolation grows after journalist's dramatic arrest
Belarus’ isolation is deepening as commercial planes avoid its airspace and the European Union works up new sanctions
12:58PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Mali's coup leader wrests back control of the government
Mali’s former coup leader Assimi Goita has fired the president and prime minister of the transitional government in an unprecedented move
12:54PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Ohio, Census Bureau reach agreement on redistricting data
The state of Ohio and the U.S. Census Bureau have asked a judge to place on hold their court fight over when data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts will be released
12:43PM ( 28 minutes ago )
House GOP leaders condemn Greene over Holocaust comments
House Republican leaders are forcefully condemning GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia over her comments comparing House COVID-19 safety measures like masks to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany
12:34PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Floyd family meeting Biden as Congress mulls police bill
President Joe Biden will meet with the family of George Floyd at the White House Tuesday on the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death
12:30PM ( 42 minutes ago )
AP National News
Blinken says US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has vowed to “rally international support” to aid Gaza during a visit to Israel at the start of a regional tour to shore up last week’s cease-fire
10:09AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: WH: US reaching 50% of adults fully vaccinated
The White House says the United States on Tuesday will reach 50% of American adults fully vaccinated for COVID-19
9:58AM ( 3 hours ago )
In NYC's furthest flung neighborhood, vaccine a tough sell
COVID-19 killed hundreds of people in one of New York City's most isolated neighborhoods
9:37AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
UK accused of reintroducing virus restrictions on the sly
The British government is facing accusations of reintroducing local lockdowns on the sly after it published new guidelines for eight areas of England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India
12:13PM ( 59 minutes ago )
Mexico's long delay of vaccines for Latin America nears end
Mexico’s top diplomat says shipments of a long-delayed lot of AstraZeneca vaccines will finally be sent to Argentina
12:13PM ( 59 minutes ago )
Saved by online lenders, businesses say they'll borrow again
Some small businesses forced to turn to online lenders for pandemic relief are making those niche players a bigger part of their financial game plan
12:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US stocks edge higher; homebuilders, tech are among winners
Stocks were slightly higher in early trading Tuesday, adding to gains from the day before as technology companies and homebuilders helped push the market higher
10:22AM ( 2 hours ago )
US stocks open higher; homebuilders, tech are among winners
Stocks are moderately higher in early trading on Wall Street, nudging the S&P 500 a bit closer to the record high level it reached just over two weeks ago
9:45AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Moderna: Shot works in kids as young as 12
Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12
8:41AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Poland defies EU court ruling to close major lignite mine
Officials in Poland have defied an injunction by the top European Union court, saying that the ordered closure of a major brown coal mine would shake the nation's energy system and lay off thousands of employees
2:31PM ( 22 hours ago )
Iran agrees to extend deal on cameras at its nuclear sites
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has agreed to a one-month extension to the deal on surveillance cameras at its nuclear sites
10:34AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden's solar ambitions collide with China labor complaints
The Biden administration’s solar power ambitions are colliding with complaints the global industry depends on Chinese raw materials that might be produced by forced labor
6:57AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Mali's coup leader wrests back control of the government
Mali’s former coup leader Assimi Goita has fired the president and prime minister of the transitional government in an unprecedented move
12:54PM ( 18 minutes ago )
US to reopen Jerusalem consulate, upgrading Palestinian ties
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem
12:51PM ( 21 minutes ago )
4th Czech health minister resigns since start of pandemic
The Czech Republic has lost its fourth health minister since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year
12:50PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Gunshots heard near Floyd square on anniversary of death
The Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died has been disrupted by gunfire, just hours before a family-friendly street festival marking the anniversary of his death at the hands of police
12:47PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Ohio, Census Bureau reach agreement on redistricting data
The state of Ohio and the U.S. Census Bureau have asked a judge to place on hold their court fight over when data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts will be released
12:43PM ( 29 minutes ago )