The leaders of Russia and the United States will sit down together in the Swiss city of Geneva on June 16 to discuss how the two countries can avoid further deterioration in diplomatic relations.
“In accordance with the agreement, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will hold talks with President of the United States Joseph Biden in Geneva on June 16,” the Kremlin said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
A long-awaited one-on-one meeting is expected to address a wide array of pressing issues, which have worsened relations between Moscow and Washington in recent years to levels not seen since the Soviet Union was at odds with the US during the Cold War.
“The two presidents will discuss the current status of and prospects for bilateral relations, strategic stability problems, as well as current issues on the international agenda, including cooperation in countering the coronavirus pandemic and settlement of regional conflicts,” reads the statement issued by the Kremlin.
The first summit between President Putin and his American counterpart will wrap up Biden’s first international trip as a president. However, it wouldn’t be the first time the politicians met in person as they had already met before Biden was elected to the White House.
According to the American political magazine Politico, no significant agreements are expected from the upcoming summit in Switzerland. Politico suggested that growing tensions over Russia’s closest ally Belarus are likely to be among the possible topics for discussion between the two presidents.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations between two of the world’s foremost nuclear powers have cycled. The relationship has soured in recent years, mostly due to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, in which the US accuses Russia of being involved militarily. In addition, many in Washington accuse Moscow of having interfered in the 2016 presidential election – an accusation the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.
Relations between the former Cold War foes have only been aggravated after Biden called Putin a “killer” in an interview with ABC News in March, prompting Moscow to recall its ambassador to Washington. President Putin, in turn, responded to Biden’s criticisms with a wish for “good health” and a proposal for a live televised debate.
Less than a month later, the White House slapped Russia with fresh sanctions, which included the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats from the US and led to a tit-for-tat response from the Kremlin. In response, Moscow expelled ten US diplomats and restricted the activity of those remaining in the country. In addition, the Russian government called on Washington’s ambassador to Moscow to leave the country for consultations amid rising tensions between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Russian Parliament believes that the Putin-Biden summit will lay the ground for thawing relations between the two countries.
Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Tuesday that although the meeting is not expected to lead to any major breakthroughs, it gives a chance to normalize dialogue between the two countries.