President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16 for their first in-person summit, the White House announced on Tuesday.
Why it matters: The highly anticipated summit offers an early test of the Biden administration's goal of holding Russia accountable for its abuses while seeking a more "stable" and "predictable" relationship.
The big picture: Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have soared in the first six months of the Biden presidency.
- U.S. intelligence declassified a report on March 16 finding that Putin authorized election influence operations aimed at denigrating Biden's candidacy, supporting former President Trump, and undermining public confidence in the vote.
- One day later, Biden said in an interview that he believes Putin is a "killer," prompting Moscow to recall its ambassador to the U.S.
- The Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Russia for election interference, the attempted poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies and the occupation of Crimea.
- Russia has retaliated by expelling 10 U.S. diplomats and banning top U.S. officials from entering the country. Its massive military buildup on the eastern border of Ukraine drew warnings from the U.S. and its European allies.
Despite the tensions, both governments have expressed interest in cooperating on areas of mutual interest, like climate change and arms control.
- Biden agreed to a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact as one of his first foreign policy moves after taking office, and Putin attended a virtual White House climate summit in April.
- The Biden administration also waived sanctions on the corporate entity and Putin-allied CEO overseeing the construction of Nord Stream 2, allowing the Russian-owned pipeline to bypass Ukraine and deliver natural gas directly to Europe. The move has been rebuked on Capitol Hill as a geopolitical gift to Putin.
Timing: Ahead of meeting Putin, Biden will travel to the U.K. on June 11-13 for the G7 summit, followed by a trip to Brussels on June 14 for the NATO summit.
Flashback: At a now-infamous summit in Helsinki in July 2018, Trump drew widespread condemnation by siding with Putin over his own intelligence community's assessment of Russia's interference in the 2016 election.