Biden, Putin summit could last five hours, official says
President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday is expected to last as long as four or five hours, a senior administration official told reporters, after which each leader will give their own solo press conference.
Biden will first meet with Putin Wednesday afternoon in Geneva along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and translators, the official told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden traveled from Brussels to Geneva ahead of the summit.
U.S. and Russian officials will then move to an expanded meeting including five officials from each side in addition to Biden and Putin, though the White House has not yet specified what other officials will participate. The leaders are not expected to share a meal.
The White House has set low expectations for the meeting, saying Biden’s goal is to put the U.S. on a path forward to a more “predictable” and “stable” relationship with Russia. He is expected to confront Putin over Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks and human rights issues, in addition to other actions by Russia that the U.S. considers out of step with international norms.
The administration official said Tuesday that there would be discussions around arms control, an area in which Biden hopes to find common ground with Russia following the renewal of the New START treaty, as well as ransomware and norms in cyberspace.
The official signaled modest expectations for the meeting and said that “a big set of deliverables” is not expected.
The White House said over the weekend that Biden would hold a solo press conference as opposed to a joint media availability with Putin following the summit. Putin is expected to give his own press conference before Biden.
“I think the best way to deal with this is for he and I to meet, he and I to have our discussion. I know you don’t doubt that I’ll be very straightforward with him about our concerns, and I will make clear my view of how that meeting turned out, and he’ll make clear from his perspective how it turned out,” Biden told reporters Sunday, explaining his decision to hold a solo press conference.
“I don’t want to get into being diverted by ‘Did they shake hands?’ ‘Who talked the most?’ and the rest,” he continued.
The meeting will be Biden’s first with the Russian president since Biden took office in January and comes amid prolonged and heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Updated at 1:13 p.m.