The US-Russia summit in Geneva began shortly after 7am ET (noon local), when Joe "Dementia" Biden and Vladimir "Killer" Putin shook hands.
The meeting, which has now moved indoors...
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Встреча президентов России и США в Женеве началась.— МИД России 🇷🇺 (@MID_RF) June 16, 2021
💬 В.В.Путин: Надеюсь, наша встреча будет продуктивной. pic.twitter.com/vdUngk01y7
... is expected to last around five hours according to some reports.
Despite the highly theatrical optics, expectations are slim in terms of any breakthroughs, which were heavily tempered down by Russia’s Kremlin well-ahead of the confab. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said whether or not to send back ambassadors would be decided by the two presidents. "Today the presidents will need to determine how to proceed with the heads of the diplomatic missions," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies, meaning very little of substance will actually be discussed let alone decided.
The relationship between the two nuclear nations hit new lows this year – exacerbated by a combination of military shows of force, punchy rhetoric, and a string of sanctions (from the US side) – in turn prompting Russia to step up its de-dollarisation activities.
The White House suggested that a "full range of pressing issues" will be discussed with the Russian President, including arms control, climate change, Russian military involvement in Ukraine, Russia's cyber-hacking activities, and the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
As Newsquawk notes, the key at this meeting will be to gauge the atmosphere between the leaders, and whether this sets the precedence for a more productive meeting in the future. As usual, a joint statement would be seen as constructive, although Biden recently met with top Russia experts ahead of the summit who advised him against doing a joint press conference, and is expect to be alone during the post-meeting press conference, unlike Trump who stood side-by-side with the Russian leader.