“I’ll be meeting with President Putin in a couple of weeks in Geneva, making it clear that we will not – we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights,” Biden said in remarks honoring Memorial Day, during which he noted America was founded on the ideal that all men and women are created equal and said the US has an obligation to speak out when it sees human rights abuses.
The White House said last week that the first face-to-face meeting between Biden and Putin will take place in Geneva on June 16, with the two leaders planning to discuss a range of issues as the US looks to improve relations with Russia. 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.”
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.
In April, the Biden administration targeted Russia with sweeping sanctions and diplomatic expulsions, in part for the country’s “severe human rights abuses” in Crimea.
The President also said he raised human rights abuses on a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I had a long conversation, for two hours recently with President Xi, making it clear to him that we could do nothing but speak out for human rights around the world because that’s who we are,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier this month in a meeting during which the top US diplomat was expected to also discuss human rights abuses, according to three sources.
Blinken also directly raised a range of aggressive Russian activities, including the Solar Winds hack that targeted private businesses and government, Moscow’s election interference, the wrongful detention of US citizens in Russia, its detention of opposition activist Alexey Navalny, and the expulsion of each other’s diplomats, the sources said.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Chandelis Duster, Betsy Klein, Kylie Atwood and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.