President Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Geneva on June 16, the White House said Tuesday, the first face-to-face meeting between the two presidents at a time of extraordinary tension over Ukraine, cyberattacks and a host of new nuclear weapons uses.
The meeting is expected to focus heavily on preventing the nuclear escalation. Geneva was also the site of the 1985 summit between Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, and Ronald Reagan, who was also involved in the nuclear arms race.
However, Mr Biden is also expected to use the summit to address the issues he recently telephoned Mr Putin about, just before the United States announced a new set of financial sanctions against Russian officials and financial institutions.
This includes the persecution and imprisonment of Aleksei A. Navalny, the opposition leader who Putin’s intelligence services tried to kill with a nerve agent. And Mr. Biden plans to focus on the rising tide of cyberattacks against the United States, starting with SolarWinds, a sophisticated entry-level network management software used by most of the largest corporations in the United States, as well as a number of government agencies and defense companies .
Two weeks ago, Mr Biden said he would speak with Mr Putin about the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which cut off nearly half of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel supplies to the east coast. This attack came from a criminal group, but Mr Biden accused Russia of harboring the ransomware criminals.
For Mr Biden, the encounter will take place after two consecutive meetings with allies, first after the group of the seven allies – a group to which the Russians had belonged for several years when integration with the West seemed possible – and after NATO allies. Mr Biden will then travel from Brussels, where NATO is headquartered, to Geneva, where his national security adviser Jake Sullivan met his Russian counterpart last weekend to plan the meeting of the two global opponents.
Despite all the tensions, Mr. Biden has repeatedly said that the United States and Russia must find a way to have a “stable, predictable” relationship.