An upcoming meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is not a reward, and is instead a vital part of US national security, a top official said on Monday.
“Joe Biden is not meeting with Vladimir Putin despite our countries’ differences,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House. “He’s meeting with him because of our countries’ differences. There’s simply a lot we have to work through.”
The June 16 bilateral summit in Geneva is being tacked on to the tail end of Biden’s first international trip since he assumed office in January.
The White House has been framing the sit-down as being centered on ensuring “strategic stability” between the global rivals, with much of the talks expected to focus on arms control, nuclear arms reduction, and ongoing negotiations to return Iran and the US to full compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The situation in Ukraine and Belarus is also expected to be addressed.
“We believe that President Biden is the most effective direct communicator of American values and priorities, and we believe that hearing directly from President Putin is the most effective way to understand what Russia intends and plans,” said Sullivan.
.@JakeSullivan46 on Biden's meeting with @KremlinRussia_E this week: “There is never any substitute for leader-to-leader engagement, particularly for complex relationships, but with Putin this is exponentially the case."
— Elizabeth Crisp 🦩 (@elizabethcrisp) June 7, 2021
“There is never any substitute for leader-to-leader engagement, particularly for complex relationships, but with Putin this is exponentially the case,” he added.
Biden proposed the meeting in April when he phoned Putin to warn him of the then-pending penalties the US was to impose on Russia in response to the SolarWinds hack that compromised thousands of computer networks, including those of several federal government agencies.
The US retaliated to the attack by expelling 10 Russian diplomats from the country, and imposing sweeping sanctions on 32 Russians.
Read more: Biden warns Russia over cyber attacks
Microsoft assessed that a subsequent cyberattack that used USAID’s email system to launch a phishing campaign targeting human rights and humanitarian organizations was carried out by the same group behind the SolarWinds attack.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk