Just after the Biden Administration invited backlash from Russia hawks by waiving sanctions on a Russian firm involved in the construction of the controversial Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, it looks like President Biden has finally settled on a date for a face-to-face meeting with his "killer" colleague, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden initially proposed an in-person meeting between the two leaders during a phone call (his second with Putin since the start of his presidency) back in April. The meeting would cover "the full range of issues" facing the two countries, presumably including the military situation in Ukraine and the SolarWinds hack, to name a few.
After slapping sanctions on Russian sovereign debt while expelling diplomats back in April, Biden said he hoped that the decision to ratchet up sanctions wouldn't spoil the mood for a summit. Apparently, both sides feel comfortable moving ahead. Russia most recently signaled that the summit would likely be held in mid-June.
On Tuesday morning, Bloomberg reported that Biden and Putin will be meeting in Geneva starting June 15, confirming that talks between the two former allies will move ahead.
BIDEN and Putin meeting is set, I’m told. It will be in Geneva, Switzerland, starting June 15.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 25, 2021
There's plenty for the two sides to talk about: From the SolarWinds hack, to Russia's treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny, to the election interference narrative that Dems won't ever let die.
CNN added that the White House and the Kremlin are finalizing details of the summit this week. As it stands, the meeting will take place at the conclusion of Biden's first trip abroad as president.
The White House dispatched national security adviser Jake Sullivan to Geneva this week to meet with his Russian counterpart, officials said, as details are being hammered out for the meeting between Biden and Putin.
While the summit will mark Biden's first meeting with Putin since the start of his presidency, Biden previously met with Putin during his time as vice president, including a 2011 meeting during which Biden said he looked into Putin's eyes and declared: "I don't think you have a soul." During an interview back in March, Biden called Putin a "killer", saying Putin "will pay a price" for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election.
Above all, the White House will do everything in its power to contrast Biden's meeting with Putin to Trump's infamous 2018 summit in Helsinki with Putin, during which the two world leaders appeared side by side while Trump memorably pushed back against the Russian electoral interference narrative, much to the consternation of American mainstream media pundits and their Democratic allies.
That same trip will include a meeting with the G-7 in England. Of course the G-7 was formerly known as the G-8, but reverted to the G-7 after expelling Russia back in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea. Meanwhile, last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the first high-level encounter between the US and Russia since Biden took office.