Politics Why Biden and Putin won't hold a joint press conference
Biden likely to come out of Putin summit empty-handed and risks handing the Kremlin a victory, former US officials warn
"If there aren't clear deliverables criticism will grow that this high-level meeting ultimately benefited the Kremlin," a former US official said.Relations between the US and Russia have been deteriorating for years, and Washington has struggled to come up with an effective response to Putin's increasingly aggressive behavior both at home and abroad. Experts warn that Putin has no intention of using the meeting to improve relations, and question what Biden has to gain via the summit.
When US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin gather for their highly anticipated summit in Geneva on Wednesday, it will come at a time that both leaders say isSo, perhaps unsurprisingly, a joint press conference following the summit is likely not in the cards.
The summit comes some six months after the start of Biden's tenure in office, offering him the chance to set the tone for relations with the Russian leader in person following a contentious start to their relationship.
Biden, unlike predecessors, has maintained Putin skepticism
BRUSSELS (AP) — President Joe Biden frequently talks about what he sees as central in executing effective foreign policy: building personal relationships. But unlike his four most recent White House predecessors, who made an effort to build a measure of rapport with Vladimir Putin, Biden has made clear that the virtue of fusing a personal connection might have its limits when it comes to the Russian leader. The president, who is set to meet with Putin face-to-face on Wednesday in Geneva, has repeated an anecdote about his last meeting with Putin, 10 years ago when he was vice president and Putin was serving as prime minister.
Wednesday's private meetings grant the President, who has sometimes stumbled in his messaging while in front of the press, the opportunity to confront Putin directly and without cameras.
Later, Biden be able to deliver his own message to reporters about the talks without the pressure of speaking alongside an adversary. Instead of potentially facing the press with dueling messages about US-Russia relations, Biden and Putin will hold solo press conferences following the summit.
The decision to not hold a joint press conference was something for which White House officials had pushed. Officials have said Russiaduring negotiations about the summit. But the US resisted because they did not want to give Putin a platform like he had after a 2018 summit with former President Donald Trump in Helsinki.
Putin talks hacking, Navalny and Capitol riot in NBC interview ahead of Biden summit
In an exclusive interview, Putin again denied that Russian hackers or the government itself were behind cyberattacks in the U.S. were "farcical," and he challenged NBC News, and by implication the U.S. government, to produce proof that Russians were involved."We have been accused of all kinds of things," Putin said. "Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.
Officials said they were mindful of Putin's desire to appear like he'd gotten the better of a US president, and wanted to avoid a situation that devolved into a tit-for-tat playing out in public.
The decision also comes at the advice of a group of Russia experts who met with the President earlier this month, according to sources familiar with the discussion.
"This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other," Biden said on Sunday, explaining the decision.
The US-Russia talks are expected to take place at a lakeside villa in Switzerland and last around five hours or longer, according to a US official. Despite their lengthy agenda, the leaders are not expected to break bread.
Setting the tone
In his first months in office, Biden made clear that Russia would face ramifications for a slew of actions against the US.
He told a reporter in March that hethat Putin was a "killer." And in April, the Biden administration sweeping sanctions and diplomatic expulsions over its interference in the 2020 US election, its SolarWinds cyberattack and its ongoing occupation and "severe human rights abuses" in Crimea.
With US-Russia relations at low point, Biden, Putin each bring a wariness to Geneva summit
When Joe Biden meets Vladimir Putin in Geneva the West's favorite geopolitical bogeyman is not likely to get the easy pass he got from Donald TrumpThree years ago this July, former President Donald Trump stood side by side with the Russian autocrat at a press conference in Finland's capital and blithely dismissed assessments from his own intelligence agencies, defense officials and American lawmakers about Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
But when issuing those new sanctions, Biden also underscored that the US still wants "a stable, predictable relationship" with Russia.
Now he faces questions about whether his past hardline rhetoric will match his administration's actions at the summit.
Biden has recently had to defend his administration's decision tosanctions for Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. And while Biden has agreed to meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky later this summer in Washington, the White House appeared to Zelensky's initial request for an in-person meeting ahead of the Putin summit.
Asked on Tuesday in Brussels whether he still believes Putin is a killer, Biden also appeared to soften his language ahead of the summit talks.
"I believe he has, in the past, essentially acknowledged that he was -- there were certain things that he would do or did do," Biden said.
He continued, "But look, when I was asked that question on air, I answered it honestly. ... I don't think it matters a whole lot, in terms of this next meeting we're about to have."
Biden-Putin summit live updates: 'I'm always ready,' Biden says
President Joe Biden will meet face-to-face with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Switzerland on Wednesday amid rising tensions between the two countries.The two men will face off inside an 18th-century Swiss villa in Geneva, situated alongside a lake in the middle of the Parc de la Grange. The fifth American president to sit down with Putin, Biden has spoken with him and met him before, in 2016.
But he also struck a tough message in other ways, saying NATO members and "guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain as phony populism."
Biden has told aides he believes Putin will respond to directness during their talks and wants to be ready to offer a frank message. He's also preparing to discuss areas of potential mutual interest.
During Wednesday's summit, there are alsoto establish a baseline between a new administration and a long-standing foe, one person familiar with the preparation said. The goal isn't any kind of dramatic breakthrough, and Biden and his aides alike have been careful to make clear there is no expectation of anything of the sort.
Officials want Biden to be prepared for the Russian leader's tactics, including his well-known habit of turning discussions of Russia's bad practices back on the United States. Biden has told aides he believes Putin will respond to directness during their talks and wants to be ready to offer a frank message.
Biden will be become the fifth American president with whom Putin has met.
Not all of them held joint press conferences with Putin following their meetings, and when they have, they haven't always been pleasant or appeared to move in America's favor.
Images of Biden's meeting with Putin show a cool but cordial dynamic as the president seeks a reset after Trump
Trump's behavior toward Putin repeatedly sparked criticism in Washington and fueled suspicions about the president's loyalties.Biden's approach to relations with Putin has marked a significant shift in the US stance toward Russia in comparison to the past four years under former President Donald Trump.
During a joint press conference in 2000 with then-President Bill Clinton, for example, the two leaders
And when Trump held a press conference with Putin in 2018 in Helsinki, hethe US government's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying at the time that he didn't "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible.
"I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said during the press conference.
Biden has long been skeptical about America's relations with with Putin.
After former President George W. Bush met with Putin in Slovenia in June 2001, Bush said he looked him in the eye and got "a sense of his soul." But Biden, then a senator, responded by saying, "I don't trust Putin. Hopefully, the president was being stylistic rather than substantive."
Biden is playing a long game with Putin. Will it work?: ANALYSIS .
After their summit this week, President Joe Biden said he is playing a long game with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Will it work?: ANALYSIS. After their afternoon summit in the Swiss capital, Biden said give him time to see if his approach works -- trying to play to Putin's long desire to have Moscow seen as a key power, respected and feared around the globe.