World Three things the White House wants from the Biden-Putin summit
Blinken's warning for Putin: He will answer for ransomware attacks
Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned that Vladimir Putin will have to answer for the ransomware attacks that caused meat and gas prices to skyrocket.'We would prefer to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve made that clear. But we’ve made equally clear that if Russia chooses to act aggressively or recklessly toward us or toward our allies and partners, we’ll respond,' Blinken told Axios' Mike Allen in an interview that aired on HBO.
On the eve of the summit between United States President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, senior White House officials previewed their expectations, declaring they are seeking three things out of the meeting.
Their wish list is broad and echoes what Biden and his administration have telegraphed in the days and weeks leading up to Wednesday’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. In fact, a senior administration official admitted: “We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting.”
Biden to champion democracy in first foreign trip
Joe Biden will fight what he calls a "defining" battle for democracy on his first foreign presidential trip, meeting top US allies in Europe ahead of a tricky summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin. "This is a defining question of our time," Biden wrote in The Washington Post ahead of his trip. "Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries? I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.
Here is what they are expecting, the official told reporters on Tuesday:
- “First, a clear set of taskings about areas where working together can advance our national interest and make the world safer.
- “Second, a clear laydown of the areas of America’s vital national interests, where Russian activities that run counter to those interests will be met with a response.
- “And third, a clear explication of the president’s vision for American values and our national priorities.”
Last week, Biden warned of “robust and meaningful consequences” if Russia engages in “harmful activities”.
For his part, Putin, in an interview on Friday with US broadcaster NBC, said relations between the US and Russia are at a nadir.
“We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years,” he said.
Biden’s First International Test: Can He Save Ukraine From Putin?
For many in Ukraine, the summit between Biden and Putin on June 16 has taken on a quasi-mythical quality. They fear it will be reminiscent of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact where Germany and the Soviet Union carved up Eastern Europe between them. “This is another meeting where the U.S. and Russia will divide the world between them,” said one alarmed Kyiv resident, Slava, 32. “I just hope that Ukraine will still be a free country.
What’s on the agenda
One of the “Russian activities that run counter” to “America’s vital national interests” that is likely to be brought up is the so-called SolarWinds cyberattacks. And “on the cyber side, obviously, ransomware will be a significant topic of conversation tomorrow”, a senior administration official said.
Other potential topics Biden is likely to bring up include the alleged Russian meddling in the past two US presidential elections, the Russian troop buildup on the border of Ukraine and its continued occupation of Crimea, the militarisation of the Arctic, and the alleged poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
China figures to be part of the discussion as well, according to a senior administration official.
“I think, ultimately, we are going to need to have a sustained conversation with China on arms control-related issues. But the President has made clear that, at the outset, a bilateral discussion between the two biggest nuclear powers in the world is the way to start,” the official said.
The meeting at the 18th-century Villa La Grange in Geneva is expected to run four to five hours and will not involve a meal or “breaking of bread”, a senior administration official said, just meetings: one with the two presidents and their foreign ministers – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – and another with the presidents “plus five” on each side. The “plus five” list has yet to be disclosed.
Putin will arrive first and then the two presidents will meet with their Swiss counterpart, Guy Parmelin, before beginning their meetings.
Following the summit, Putin will hold a solo news conference to be followed by a separate solo news conference by Biden.
Vladimir Putin Says Joe Biden is 'Intelligent, Collected, Does Not Miss a Thing' .
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave high marks for U.S. President Joe Biden after their meeting in Switzerland this week—despite their rocky relationship of the past. © PETER KLAUNZER / POOL / AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden (R) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021. "Biden is a professional, and you need to work very carefully with him so as not to miss something," Putin told reporters Thursday—a day after they met in the neutral site of Geneva, Russian state-owned media TASS reported.