by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

June 16, 2021

GENEVA — Senior White House officials said President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for five hours on Wednesday for a highly anticipated summit in Geneva.

Putin, accompanied by foreign ministers and a translator, is expected to arrive in Geneva first, around 1:20 p.m. local time, which is 6:20 a.m. on the East Coast and 3:20 a.m. on the West Coast.  Biden will be assisted by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a translator.  Putin and Biden will be greeted by Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

Following the meeting, each president will hold a separate press conference, which will begin around 6 p.m. Geneva time.  Biden is expected to fly back to the United States after the press conference, bringing his first foreign trip as president.

Iran and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Syria, the Arctic, strategic stability, arms control, climate change, and COVID-19 are among the topics Biden and Putin are expected to discuss.

The US and Russia have long competed on a global scale, and while the US outperforms Russia in many areas, such as the military, Putin has relied on other factors, such as cyberstrikes, to maintain Russian dominance.

According to the White House, Biden and Putin will also discuss the US and Russian intentions to pursue a “strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues” to build on the extension of the New START Treaty.  All Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are subject to verifiable limits under the START Treaty.

The treaty was signed on February 5, 2011, and the US and Russian Federation have agreed to extend it until February 4, 2026, according to the State Department.

Biden is also expected to bring up the issue of ransomware attacks from Russia.  According to a source, ransomware will be “a significant topic” for the leaders to discuss, and Biden is “willing to take action against Russia – significant types of action – like he did with SolarWinds.”

Biden has attempted to exert economic pressure on Russia by imposing sanctions last week on Russian companies and ships for their work on a natural gas pipeline in Europe, though the Biden administration exempted the German company in charge of the project, causing frustration among Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Last month, the Biden administration imposed a slew of new sanctions on Russia in response to its attempted meddling in the 2020 election and a cyberattack linked to the Kremlin that hit multiple federal agencies.  The sanctions targeted 32 entities and individuals who, on Russian government orders, attempted to sway the outcome of the November election last year.

Ten Russian diplomats working in Washington, D.C., including some intelligence officers, were also expelled by the White House.

Biden said this week that Putin was a “worthy adversary,” just days after Putin praised former President Trump in an interview and called Biden a “career man”