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Baku Among Potential Locations for Upcoming Biden-Putin Meeting

By Mushvig Mehdiyev May 7, 2021

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A view from Azerbaijan's capital Baku / Courtesy

Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku is among the cities being considered for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. American political magazine Politico says Azerbaijan's largest city would suit Washington’s plans for the meeting in June.

According to Politico, President Biden could seek a face-to-face meeting with President Putin during his European tour where he will meet with leaders of NATO, G-7, and the European Union in mid-June. 

Former US officials and analysts are convinced that Biden could meet his Russian counterpart somewhere in Europe during this visit to the region. Earlier, CNN quoted Biden’s security advisor Jake Sullivan as saying that the plans were under discussion in Washington as the White House has been trying to make plans for a meeting this summer. However, according to Sullivan, no date and location have been confirmed yet.

Politico suggest Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital; Prague, capital of the Czech Republic; Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia; and the Azerbaijani capital Baku, as cities that could potentially host the Biden-Putin meeting.

Baku has previously hosted three meetings between high-ranking NATO and Russian military officials. The first meeting between the alliance’s military committee chairman General Petr Pavel and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and First Deputy Defense Minister General Valery Gerasimov took place on September 7, 2017. Discussions among NATO and Russian officials in Baku continued in the second meeting attended by Gerasimov and General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe on April 19, 2018. Another Scaparrotti-Gerasimov meeting in Azerbaijan’s capital was held on December 12, 2018.

NATO and the Russian defense ministry then said in separate statements that the generals discussed military exercises and troop movements conducted by both sides. The meetings focused on mutual accusations of risky deployments in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, according to media reports.

Analysts highlight Baku’s significance as a neutral platform for such meetings. Alexei Sinitsyn, a chief expert at the American-Azerbaijani Progress Foundation, said that although Azerbaijan is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the country has developed close relations with both Moscow and Western capitals.

“The situation in Baku is always stable, benevolent, and any unexpected political excesses are practically excluded. It is difficult to find the best place for such meetings,” Sinitsyn explained.

Azerbaijan is not a member of NATO or the Russia-led military bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization. The country has joined and currently chairs the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an international organization that rejects an official alignment with or against any major power bloc or a group of countries. With 120 members, 17 observer states, and 10 international observer organizations, NAM is the world’s second-largest organization after the United Nations.

“Azerbaijan and Russia are strategic partners. Relations between Baku and Washington are also strategic. The fact that Azerbaijan has been chosen as the venue for holding such high-level meetings and discussing important matters demonstrates deep confidence trust of each side [in Azerbaijan]," Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Khalaf Khalafov said while briefing the Scaparrotti-Gerasimov meeting in Baku in December 2018.