Biden Meets with Putin for the First Time Since Taking Office
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Geneva just before 7 a.m. Local time on Wednesday for their first meeting since Biden took office.
After a photo session with Federal President Guy Parmelin in front of Villa La Grange, the couple is expected to adjourn for a four to five hour bilateral meeting, which will be followed by individual press conferences.
The meeting comes after Biden spent days meeting global leaders from the Group of Seven, NATO, and the US-EU. Summit this week.
On Monday, Biden told reporters that Putin was "brilliant, he is tough, and I have found that, as they say when I used to play ball, he is a worthy opponent".
The discussion is expected to focus heavily on ransomware as Biden will highlight the United States' plans to respond to ongoing state-controlled hacks, an official reportedly told CNN. Although Biden has warned that if Russia continues its cyberattacks and other aggressive actions against the US, "we will respond in the same way," he also said he hoped to find areas of cooperation with the Russian President.
Officials reportedly have modest expectations of the talks - they don't hope there will be any dramatic breakthroughs. Instead, they hope to lay a foundation for relations between the new government and Russian officials.
Biden will discuss potential settlement areas such as nuclear stability and possibly return ambassadors to Washington and Moscow after both countries spent months without a senior diplomat, a senior administrative official told the Associated Press.
He hopes to start mending a relationship that he said Sunday was at a rock bottom.
Biden is also focused on making progress on a new arms control deal with Russia after agreeing to extend the current deal for five years in January.
He is expected to voice concerns about Putin's treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested in January after returning to Moscow from Germany. He spent five months in Berlin recovering from neurotoxin poisoning, which is believed to have been committed by the Kremlin.
Officials said they want Biden, the fifth American president in a row, to meet Putin in preparation for the Russian president's tactics, such as his habit of shifting talks back to the US about Russia's bad practices.
Biden has reportedly told his aides that he believes Putin will respond to directness.
However, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy beat up Biden Tuesday for postponing Putin on his trip and weakening America.
"I don't care to bewitch Europe and think that you are one of them," he said. “Biden makes our opponents stronger. Russia is stronger today under a Biden government than it was under the previous government. China is stronger today. "
The President will meet Putin in two sessions: a smaller group and one with a larger contingent of helpers. Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to attend both meetings.
After the meeting, Biden decided to forego a joint press conference with Putin and instead speak to reporters alone. While Russia reportedly asked the president to agree to a joint press conference during the negotiations on the summit, the US pushed back, as officials refused to offer Putin a platform similar to what it was after a summit with then-President Donald Trump in Helsinki.
Officials also reportedly said they were concerned that Putin might try to appear like he defeated Biden and did not want the press secretary to turn into a curmudgeon.
"This is not a competition about who can do better before a press conference or try to embarrass each other," said Biden.
More from National Review
Biden at the NATO summit: Alexei Navalny's death would undermine US-Russia relations
Biden says: "Now is the time for de-escalation" and announces new Russia sanctions
Biden and Putin meet in person in Switzerland
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