President Biden is set to meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16th, the White House said on Tuesday. The meeting will come amid heightened US-Russia tensions due to the hostile policies of the Biden administration.
“They mean to discuss the current condition of Russian-US relations and the outlook for their development, strategic stability, and crucial issues on the international agenda, such as interaction in the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts,” the Kremlin said of the planned meeting, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
Since coming into office, President Biden has imposed a wide array of sanctions on Russian officials and entities over the jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and unsubstantiated claims about Moscow, like the idea Russia was responsible for the SolarWinds hack. The Biden administration has also expelled Russian diplomats, voiced support for Ukraine, and sailed warships into the Black Sea.
Biden’s rhetoric has been particularly harsh as well. In an interview in March, Biden agreed that Putin was a “killer” who had “no soul.” The Russian president responded to the aggressive rhetoric by calling for talks between the two leaders.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an Arctic Council Ministerial in Iceland, which marked the first high-level meeting between US and Russian officials of the Biden administration.