The first face-to-face meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will take place next month in Switzerland, the White House confirmed Tuesday, as the administration and the Kremlin finalize arrangements for the summit.
“President Biden will meet with President Putin in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16, 2021. The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” the White House said in a statement.
In its own statement, the Kremlin said, “We intend to discuss the state and prospects of further development of Russian-American relations, problems of strategic stability, as well as topical issues on the international agenda, including interaction in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts.”
The long anticipated meeting will come at the conclusion of Biden’s first international trip since taking office.
The White House dispatched national security adviser Jake Sullivan to Geneva this week to meet with his Russian counterpart, officials said, as details are being hammered out for the meeting between Biden and Putin.
Biden plans to address Ukraine and Belarus during the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
“We expect they will spend a fair amount of time on strategic stability, where the arms control agenda goes following the extension of New START,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s briefing.
She continued, “The President will also raise Ukraine, underscoring America’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and he will also plan to raise Belarus and convey our grave concerns – as he has now done publicly – privately.”
Psaki added that a range of issues could be added to the agenda in the coming weeks.
Pressed on criticism that the administration is rewarding the Putin regime for its bad behavior with the summit, Psaki argued the opposite.
“Well, we may have forgotten over the last couple of years, but this is how diplomacy works. … We don’t meet with people only when we agree. It’s actually important to meet with leaders when we have a range of disagreements, as we do with Russian leaders,” she said.
The administration does not view the meeting as a “reward,” she said.
The high-stakes meeting comes nearly three years after Putin met then-President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland. The officials said the meeting with Biden will look very different from that July 2018 summit, during which Trump sided with Putin and openly dismissed US intelligence about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
It would be Biden’s first meeting with Putin since taking office. But Biden has previously met with Putin during his time as vice president, including a 2011 meeting during which Biden said he looked into Putin’s eyes and declared: “I don’t think you have a soul.”
Biden initially proposed a summit with the Russian President last month during a telephone call, and the two sides have been working to finalize details since. Despite deteriorating relations between the two countries on issues like Ukraine and election interference, Biden hopes to establish a clear channel of communication that would avoid undue surprises.
Putin has appeared receptive to the offer, even after the United States applied harsh new sanctions and other punishments on Russia for, among other things, its role in a massive cyberattack on government agencies.
The relationship between the world leaders got off to a tumultuous start, with the US adjusting its posture with Russia by finalizing sanctions in the wake of the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the SolarWinds hack and its alleged placing of bounties on US troops serving in Afghanistan.
During an interview in March, Biden called Putin a killer, saying that the Russian leader “will pay a price” for his efforts to undermine the 2020 US election.
In response, the Kremlin recalled its ambassador to the US for the first time in more than 20 years. Putin responded to Biden’s criticisms with a dry wish for “good health” and a proposal for a live televised debate.
The specific agenda and format of the Switzerland meeting is still coming together, officials said, and comes as Biden makes his debut as President on the international stage.
He is scheduled to depart in early June for his first trip abroad, seeking to reassure world leaders at the Group of 7 summit in southwest England and NATO and European Union summits in Brussel of his commitment to traditional American alliances. He would travel to Switzerland following those meetings in the United Kingdom and Brussels.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the first high-level encounter between the US and Russia since Biden took office.
This story has been updated with additional background information and reporting.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Kylie Atwood, Nicole Gaouette and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.