Domestic Bonds

Biden and Putin to meet on June 16 amid disagreements

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva on June 16, the White House and the Kremlin announced on Tuesday amid heated disputes over election interference, cyber attacks, human rights. man and Ukraine.

The two countries lowered expectations for breakthroughs at the summit, with neither in the mood to make concessions on their many disagreements, Reuters reported earlier this month.

“The President of the United States is not afraid to stand up to our adversaries and use a moment of in-person diplomacy to voice his concerns and seek areas of opportunity to work together in areas where we are mutually agreed ”. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing.

Earlier, she said in a statement that the two would discuss “the full range of pressing issues as we seek to restore predictability and stability in US-Russian relations.”

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two leaders will discuss bilateral relations, issues related to strategic nuclear stability and other matters, including cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and regional conflicts.

Biden has previously said he wants Putin to stop trying to influence the US elections, end cyber attacks on US networks emanating from Russia, stop threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and free the jailed critic. of the Kremlin Alexei Navalny.

The White House has avoided describing Biden as seeking a “reset” in relations with Putin, a term often used by former US presidents as they sought to improve relations with Russia.

Rather, U.S. officials see the face-to-face meeting as an opportunity to hijack the relationship from what they see as former President Donald Trump’s goofy overtures to Putin.

Russian officials told Reuters they viewed the summit as an opportunity to hear from Biden directly after what a source close to the Russian government said were mixed messages from the US administration which took office on January 20. .

Putin sees US pressure on Navalny and his support for pro-democracy activists in Russia and Belarus as interference in Russia’s internal affairs.

Russia is also unhappy with US sanctions, including those announced on April 15 to punish Moscow for its interference in the 2020 US election, cyber-hacking, Ukraine intimidation, and other alleged malicious actions the Russia denies.

The US government has blacklisted Russian companies, kicked out Russian diplomats, and banned US banks from buying sovereign bonds from the Russian central bank, the National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance. The United States has warned Russia that other sanctions are possible, but said it does not want an escalation.

Russia denies interfering in the US election, orchestrating a cyber-hack that used US tech company SolarWinds Corp SWI.N to penetrate US government networks and employing a nerve agent to poison Navalny, who is being jailed for accusations which, according to him, are politically motivated.

Biden also expressed concerns about the build-up of Russian forces in Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in March 2014, and along the border with Ukraine, which have raised concerns in the United States about a possible invasion.

In addition to discussing Ukraine, Psaki said Biden would uplift Belarus by forcing a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk on Sunday, where authorities arrested a Belarusian dissident journalist on board the plane.

Russia has denied reports that four of its citizens got off the plane in Minsk, raising suspicions of Russian involvement. Psaki said the White House did not believe Russia played a role in the incident.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Nandita Bose; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Howard Goller)