world

Russian President Vladimir Putin lands in Geneva for his showdown summit with Joe Biden


President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have begun their summit at a villa on Lake Geneva with a very awkward photo opportunity with stilted chat, minimal eye contact and with aides shooing the press away. 

The two men arrived at the summit within a few minutes of each other: Putin, after a last-minute arrival by air and motorcade; Biden by driving from his nearby hotel, having arrived Tuesday. 

Biden extended his hand first. Putin accepted, and the two proceeded to shake hands and smile for the cameras outside the Villa de La Grange before heading inside.

During a photo-op in the library, Biden grinned while photographers jostled to capture the historic meeting.

‘It’s always better to meet face to face,’ Biden said, flashing a big smile. He sat with his legs crossed, and at one point put a white note card into his suit jacket inside pocket.

The event was set up not to have public comments by either man, and Putin could be seen sitting back in his chair, tapping his hand against his wooden armrest and looking bored while they waited.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was seated to Biden’s right, taking notes. To Biden’s left was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, seated with his hands between his legs.

Then a minder cajoled the press, telling the photographers: ‘Go away please,’ and they were ushered out of the room so the first substantive meeting could begin. 

The highly-anticipated first presidential summit is a Cold War throwback to Ronald Reagan’s meeting with the Soviet strongman Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in 1985. 

Relations between the two sides are similarly cool – at their lowest ebb in decades after the Kremlin’s cyber offensives, election meddling, threats to invade Ukraine, poisonings of dissidents both at home and abroad, and its increased intervention in the Middle East, where it is accused of shadowy mercenary deployments.    

Putin looks down at the floor during an awkward first moment with Biden ahead of five hours of gruelling chat to help salvage relations between Moscow and Washington

Putin looks down at the floor during an awkward first moment with Biden ahead of five hours of gruelling chat to help salvage relations between Moscow and Washington

During a photo-op inside, Biden grinned while photographers jostled to capture the historic meeting. 'It's always better to meet face to face,' Biden said, flashing a big smile. He sat with his legs crossed, and at one point put a white notecard into his suit jacket inside pocket. The event was set up not to have public comments by either man, and Putin could be seen sitting back in his chair, tapping his hand against his wooden armrest while they waited.

During a photo-op inside, Biden grinned while photographers jostled to capture the historic meeting. ‘It’s always better to meet face to face,’ Biden said, flashing a big smile. He sat with his legs crossed, and at one point put a white notecard into his suit jacket inside pocket. The event was set up not to have public comments by either man, and Putin could be seen sitting back in his chair, tapping his hand against his wooden armrest while they waited. 

Putin smiles with Biden as the pair shake hands ahead of their highly-anticipated summit to address failing relations

Putin smiles with Biden as the pair shake hands ahead of their highly-anticipated summit to address failing relations

The pair look at pains to appear jovial as their summit gets underway in Geneva

The pair look at pains to appear jovial as their summit gets underway in Geneva

Biden gestures as he speaks to Putin who leans forward, appearing to listen attentively to his American counterpart

Biden gestures as he speaks to Putin who leans forward, appearing to listen attentively to his American counterpart

Putin smiles thoughtfully as Biden gestures with his fists as the pair start their summit in Geneva

Putin smiles thoughtfully as Biden gestures with his fists as the pair start their summit in Geneva 

Biden sits with his legs crossed and sits up stiffly as Putin adopts a more macho repose, his legs apart and leaning back with his hand draped over the armrest

Biden sits with his legs crossed and sits up stiffly as Putin adopts a more macho repose, his legs apart and leaning back with his hand draped over the armrest 

Putin shakes hands with Biden inside the opulent Villa de la Grange overlooking Lake Geneva after posing for a photo with the Swiss President Guy Paremlin outside

Putin shakes hands with Biden inside the opulent Villa de la Grange overlooking Lake Geneva after posing for a photo with the Swiss President Guy Paremlin outside

Biden extended his hand first. Putin accepted, and the two proceeded to shake hands and smile for the cameras. They ignored questions shouted by reporters covering the summit.

Biden extended his hand first. Putin accepted, and the two proceeded to shake hands and smile for the cameras. They ignored questions shouted by reporters covering the summit.

Biden and Putin smile and look ahead awkwardly as their meeting begins at the villa overlooking Lake Geneva

Biden and Putin smile and look ahead awkwardly as their meeting begins at the villa overlooking Lake Geneva

Biden gestures as Putin leans on his armrest as their conversations get underway in Switzerland

Biden gestures as Putin leans on his armrest as their conversations get underway in Switzerland

Biden places a note card on the table as he and Putin exchange small talk ahead of five hours of gruelling meetings to help repair relations

Biden places a note card on the table as he and Putin exchange small talk ahead of five hours of gruelling meetings to help repair relations

The two leaders were flanked by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

The two leaders were flanked by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Putin and Biden exchange warm glances with each other as the world's media watches on ahead of five hours of talks which the US President has promised will include tough topics such as Russian hacking and the poisoning of dissidents

Putin and Biden exchange warm glances with each other as the world’s media watches on ahead of five hours of talks which the US President has promised will include tough topics such as Russian hacking and the poisoning of dissidents 

Putin gestures towards the US President as the pair exchange small talk ahead of five hours of meetings

Putin gestures towards the US President as the pair exchange small talk ahead of five hours of meetings 

Putin waves at the press as he enters the Villa de la Grange behind Biden in Geneva

Putin waves at the press as he enters the Villa de la Grange behind Biden in Geneva 

Putin and Biden look awkwardly ahead as photographers swarm around them before their talks inside the Swiss villa

Putin and Biden look awkwardly ahead as photographers swarm around them before their talks inside the Swiss villa

The two men arrived at the summit within a few minutes of each other: Putin, after a last-minute arrival by air and motorcade; Biden by driving from his nearby hotel, having arrived Tuesday (pictured: the pair posing with Swiss President Guy Parmelin at the highly-choreographed meeting)

The two men arrived at the summit within a few minutes of each other: Putin, after a last-minute arrival by air and motorcade; Biden by driving from his nearby hotel, having arrived Tuesday (pictured: the pair posing with Swiss President Guy Parmelin at the highly-choreographed meeting)

The issues Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin want to raise at their summit

Russian-backed election interference

Russia harboring ransomware hackers

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Other political prisoners

Potential prisoner swap for jailed Americans

Press freedoms 

COVID-19 and vaccines 

Resumption of ambassadors

Nuclear arms agreements

Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine

Recent actions in Belarus

U.S. sanctions to punish Russia

Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Climate change

Nato expansion 

Syria and Bashar al-Assad

Afghanistan

Counterterrorism 

 

Things got tense inside the room as Swiss officials running the event in the cramped room sought to herd a phalanx of reporters in and out of the library – with some pushing and shoving during the scrum.

See also  Letter: Len Clark obituary

The seated officials, all wearing dark suits, were treated to a chaotic scene while international media tried to make its way to capture the event.

Security officials jostled and shoved pools of reporters and photographers inside a room that was packed with cords and equipment.

‘As I said outside, I think it’s always better to meet face to face and try to determine our mutual interests and cooperation,’ Biden said.

Putin, who speaks English but refrains from using it publicly, said via a translator: ‘Mr. President I’d like to thank you for your initiative to meet today. I know that you’ve been on a long tour. Still, the U.S. and Russia relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest-level meeting. And I hope that our meeting will be productive.’

A masked official told reporters sternly: ‘Go away please.’ U.S. press were pushed and shoved by security officials and Russian media, according to a U.S. pool report.

Putin, who is known to roll in late to seek the upper hand, arrived before Biden – avoiding any early gaming.

Washington has been seeking to lower expectations amid the fanfare and buildup, which saw Moscow rocking the boat over the weekend with naval drills staged 300 miles off the coast of Hawaii – its largest military exercise in the Pacific since the Cold War.

‘We have a 20+ year track record of seeing exactly who Putin is – no summit is going to change that, and I’m sure Biden and his team know that,’ tweeted former Obama deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.   

The event has been both choreographed in its broad outlines and adjusted on the fly, some areas left entirely open – including the food.

‘No breaking of bread,’ quipped a senior official when asked about the lack of a set meal. 

But the official allowed, ‘I presume that the principals and the participants can ask for some water or coffee or tea …’ The summit format also allowed for breaks to be determined.  

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was seated to Biden's right, taking notes. To Biden's left was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, seated with his hands between his legs.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was seated to Biden’s right, taking notes. To Biden’s left was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, seated with his hands between his legs. 

Biden’s own limo, ‘the Beast,’ arrived at 1:18 pm, shortly after the officially posted 1:10 pm start time. Biden stood for a traditional grip-and-grin photo with the Swiss President Guy Parmelin, smiling for the cameras with an extended shake

Biden’s own limo, ‘the Beast,’ arrived at 1:18 pm, shortly after the officially posted 1:10 pm start time. Biden stood for a traditional grip-and-grin photo with the Swiss President Guy Parmelin, smiling for the cameras with an extended shake

Russia's President Vladimir Putin waves next to Swiss President Guy Parmelin as he arrives at Villa de la Grange for the U.S.-Russia summit, in Geneva

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin waves next to Swiss President Guy Parmelin as he arrives at Villa de la Grange for the U.S.-Russia summit, in Geneva

Biden shakes hands with the Swiss President Parmelin as he arrives at the villa on Wednesday at around 1pm

Biden shakes hands with the Swiss President Parmelin as he arrives at the villa on Wednesday at around 1pm

Putin and Biden pose for a photo opp with the Swiss President Paremlin after arriving separately at the villa overlooking Lake Geneva

Putin and Biden pose for a photo opp with the Swiss President Paremlin after arriving separately at the villa overlooking Lake Geneva 

Putin's motorcade rolls through Geneva on Wednesday. Street lights for Putin's route on the brief drive to the villa were flashing yellow, with a main thoroughfare along the lake completely cleared of traffic for the summit.

Putin’s motorcade rolls through Geneva on Wednesday. Street lights for Putin’s route on the brief drive to the villa were flashing yellow, with a main thoroughfare along the lake completely cleared of traffic for the summit.

Putin shakes hands with the Swiss president who is seeking to play ice breaker to the Russian and US presidents ahead of their meeting

Putin shakes hands with the Swiss president who is seeking to play ice breaker to the Russian and US presidents ahead of their meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Geneva Wednesday afternoon for his summit with President Joe Biden

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Geneva Wednesday afternoon for his summit with President Joe Biden

Putin steps off his jet at Geneva Airport flanked by bodyguards before getting into his limo. Putin was riding in an armored Aurus, a state-owned luxury vehicle that reportedly has backing from the United Arab Emirates.

Putin steps off his jet at Geneva Airport flanked by bodyguards before getting into his limo. Putin was riding in an armored Aurus, a state-owned luxury vehicle that reportedly has backing from the United Arab Emirates.

Putin quickly exited the jet stairway and joined his motorcade, offering a quick wave

Putin quickly exited the jet stairway and joined his motorcade, offering a quick wave

Putin, too, is certain to want to put his spin on events, but hasn’t said how he will do it when, or where.

He has kept up a busy schedule of interviews in the days leading up to the summit. 

The relationship has featured intense comments, and Biden agreed with Putin’s assessment that national relations were at a ‘low point.’

Biden says he once told Putin he had ‘no soul.’ He caused an uproar when he agreed Putin was a ‘killer.’

But this week he also called him ‘bright’ and ‘tough,’ as well as a ‘worthy adversary.’

He wants to see if there is a way to at least establish ‘stability and predictability’ in U.S.-Russia relations.

‘We should decide where it’s in our mutual interest, in the interest of the world, to cooperate, and see if we can do that,’ Biden said this week. ‘And the areas where we don’t agree, make it clear what the red lines are.’

Putin described Biden with the double-edged ‘career man’ label, saying he ‘spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.’ 

Biden dons his signature pair of aviators as he steps off Air Force One on arrival in Switzerland on Tuesday

Biden dons his signature pair of aviators as he steps off Air Force One on arrival in Switzerland on Tuesday

Biden is pictured in his limousine on his way out of Cointrin airport after arriving in Switzerland on Tuesday

Biden is pictured in his limousine on his way out of Cointrin airport after arriving in Switzerland on Tuesday

Biden (L) meets the Swiss delegation members next to Swiss Federal president Guy Parmelin (R) in front of Air Force One after Biden's arrival at Cointrin airport in Geneva on Tuesday

Biden (L) meets the Swiss delegation members next to Swiss Federal president Guy Parmelin (R) in front of Air Force One after Biden’s arrival at Cointrin airport in Geneva on Tuesday

Vladimir Putin is briefed by an adviser in Moscow on Tuesday before he set off for Geneva for his showdown with Biden

Vladimir Putin is briefed by an adviser in Moscow on Tuesday before he set off for Geneva for his showdown with Biden

Megaphone diplomacy before the Biden-Putin summit: What pair have said about each other in the build-up

PUTIN 

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC, the Russian president was defiant in his response to numerous allegations against him, including cyber attacks and election meddling.

The Russian president called allegations he was involved in hacks that crippled the US ‘farical’ 

He said he was ‘surprised’ he hadn’t been accused yet of sparking the Black Lives Matter movement.

He also compared the arrest of Trump supporters to the jailing and ‘political persecution’ of  Alexi Navalny. Putin also said he would not guarantee that his political opponent will ever leave jail. 

Responding to Biden calling him a ‘killer’ back in March, Putin laughed at the claims. 

When discussing a potential prisoner swap with two US Marines and Russians imprisoned in the US, he said ‘sure thing’. 

 BIDEN

On Monday, Biden called Putin ‘bright and tough’ and insisted he was a ‘worthy adversary’ ahead of the summit on Wednesday.

The US president vowed to respond ‘in kind’ to any aggression from Moscow and promised to take Putin to task on alleged hacking by Russian-backed  actors and human rights abuses.

During a press conference in NATO he said: ‘I’m laughing too’ when asked if he still thought Putin was a ‘killer’.

He also said NATO leaders had ‘thanked’ him for meeting with Putin and brushed off any claims it was too early in his presidency for such a high-profile summit. 

Putin said the remark this week by way of contrast with former President Trump, who he met at the infamous Helsinki summit – presenting Trump with a soccer ball and standing alongside Trump while he accepted Putin’s denials of election interference in 2016. 

See also  Mexico City metro: Hundreds protest at scene of deadly rail collapse

Biden has limited his comments on the issues he would raise. But he and his aides have said he will bring up ransomware, hacking, election interference, Ukraine, press freedoms, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and human rights.

The Navalny issue is a particularly thorny one.  To the U.S. it is a core rule of law issue. Biden wants to send a message to dissidents and other opposition figures, but it is an area where it will be challenging to make progress.

‘Navalny’s death would be another indication of Russia has little or no intention of abiding by basic fundamental human rights. It would be a tragedy,’ Biden said this week when asked what it would mean should he die in prison.

‘We should not lose sight of the fact that Navalny is the most famous of several hundred political prisoners,’ said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington. He said Biden may want to raise the question of Russia’s political prisoners more broadly. 

He said the U.S. should hold Putin to international standards and its own commitments as well as Russia’s own constitution. ‘We should try to hold them to those standards. The problem is the regime views these behaviors as essential to its survival. They’re not things we can convince them that they should reverse,’ he noted.’

If Biden didn’t already know it, he should be prepared for Putin trying to turn the tables on him by bringing up domestic U.S. politics. In recent days he has spoken about the prosecution of Capitol rioters while discoursing on Black Lives Matter protests, a go-to tactics when outsiders seek to call attention to stifling of internal dissent or lack of press freedoms. 

Biden also must decide how direct he wants to be when he warns Russia about ransomware attacks the U.S. believes come from its soil, even if not government-run operations. 

Biden said this week: ‘I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate if he chooses. 

And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.’ 

The two men are set to meet in Geneva at the Villa de la Grange, a building with a long history that is located near the luxury hotel where Biden is staying. With its stocked Empire bookcases, Trompe l’oeil ceiling details, and colorful rose garden, the building and grounds offers bountiful opportunities for photo-ops and small talk. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting on a show of force with the largest naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean since the end of the Cold War ahead of a meeting with Biden

Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting on a show of force with the largest naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean since the end of the Cold War ahead of a meeting with Biden

The 18th century Swiss villa where Biden and Putin will hold talks for 5 HOURS tomorrow: Inside the lakefront property where the US president will push his ‘worthy adversary’ on cyber attacks, Ukraine, election meddling and Alexei Navalny 

When President Joe Biden meets Vladimir Putin for a ‘straightforward’ conversation with his ‘worthy adversary,’ the two men will sit down for their summit meeting inside an ornate 18th century villa on the bank of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

The two men are set to meet in Geneva at the Villa de la Grange, a building with a long history that is located near the luxury hotel where Biden is staying. With its stocked Empire bookcases, Trompe l’oeil ceiling details, and colorful rose garden, the building and grounds offers bountiful opportunities for photo-ops and small talk. 

Biden and Putin have met before, although the conversations haven’t always gone smoothly. Biden claims he once told Putin he had ‘no soul.’ Putin, in a recent interview when asked about Biden, went on about Donald Trump‘s persona, then called Biden a career politician. But Biden put his best foot forward at a press conference Monday in Brussels when he declined to call Putin a ‘killer.’

See also  Gordon Ramsay sued by New Orleans restaurant over claims he staged scene of him vomiting after he smelled their shrimp

By selecting a well-appointed Geneva villa for the summit, diplomats were taking a page from the 1985 summit between Ronald Reagan and Michael Gorbachev, where a photograph of the two men before a fireplace set the tone for serious arms control talks that would follow. 

The Reagan and Gorbachev summits set a framework for how powerful adversaries can find set aside areas for negotiation and agreement even amid larger disputes. 

President Joe Biden will sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Villa de la Grange in Geneva

Study time: Biden has been meeting with Russia experts and refining his talking points with key staff. The Villa La Grange library displays some of the14,000 volumes it held

Study time: Biden has been meeting with Russia experts and refining his talking points with key staff. The Villa La Grange library displays some of the14,000 volumes it held

The building was constructed in the 18th century and modified by banking and merchant families

The building was constructed in the 18th century and modified by banking and merchant families

‘The optics are nice. You can’t really picture the two of them meeting in like a sauna or a Burger King,’ said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington.

 ‘Usually villas come with grounds. That gives you a security perimeter. They’re often on the water,’ he added. ‘And they have enough rooms in them that you’ve got staff nearby at your beck and call. So that’s usually why it’s in a villa.’

The two men are expected to meet for four to five hours, Bloomberg reported, with aides saying they will meet in a smaller as well as an expanded meeting with staff. Meetings are expected to begin in the afternoon, in keeping with a schedule Biden has kept throughout his trip to Britain and Brussels.   

As the host city, Swiss authorities are providing the neutral venue. They also have brought in an anti-aircraft gun, installed concertina wire, and taken other precautions around the city for the summit. 

The meeting is tacked onto an eight-day trip where Biden has been soliciting advice from allied leaders on how to contend with Putin.

Both men taking part in the summit have the taste for the good life, although Biden’s relatively humble $3 million Delaware beach house and classic Corvette Sting Ray might not meet Putin’s standards. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny claims Putin is the owner of a $1 billion Black Sea palace that was built for him. The Kremlin denies it. 

The Swiss villa was built between 1768 and 1773 by a prominent Lullin family, but banker Jean Lullin had to part with it after his finances took a turn for the worse after the Geneva Revolution – a push to extend the franchise that was put down by armed troops. He sold it to an industrialist born in Marseille, who like succeeding owners made changes and additions, before it ultimately ended up in the hands of the city of Geneva, according to information on the villa provide by the city.

The tranquil setting could be a remedy to reset a relationship that Biden and Putin have described as at a ‘low point.’

‘I think he’s right, it’s a low point, and it depends on how he responds to acting consistently with international norms, which in many cases he has not,’ Biden said. 

A boat with police officers patrols alongside the shore of the Lake Geneva near the 'Villa La Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland Monday, June 14, 2021

A boat with police officers patrols alongside the shore of the Lake Geneva near the ‘Villa La Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland Monday, June 14, 2021

The villa is located on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman)

The villa is located on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman)

Big Guns: Anti-aircraft cannon of the Swiss Army on the bank of the Geneva lake near the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, 14 June 2021

Big Guns: Anti-aircraft cannon of the Swiss Army on the bank of the Geneva lake near the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, 14 June 2021

The topics on the table are deadly serious: Nuclear arms, Russian election interference, ransomware attacks, the invasion of ukraine, a potential prisoner swap, and treatment of political prisoners in Russia included jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  

A city official wouldn’t say whether the two men would meet in the villa’s bibliotheque, the library, which was created with two rooms of the 12,000 volumes that were on hand.

‘We do not have information on where the presidents will meet,’ the official told DailyMail.com, speaking in French. 

The room has books in tongues including Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Hungarian, and various Germanic language, after summit meetings where the White House said Biden would meet dozens of foreign leaders.  

 It is unlikely the meeting will have lighthearted moments from the Helsinki summit, like when Putin presented Donald Trump with a soccer ball (which was later revealed to pose security issues since Adidas puts a microchip in side).

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbatchev share jokes on a break during the Geneva summit in 1985. The two met in a different villa which is now up for sale

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbatchev share jokes on a break during the Geneva summit in 1985. The two met in a different villa which is now up for sale

Biden hopes to elevate U.S.-Russia to bring them to a more stable and predictable level

Biden hopes to elevate U.S.-Russia to bring them to a more stable and predictable level

‘The bottom line is that I think the best way to deal with this is for he and I to meet, for he and I to have our discussion – I know you don’t doubt that I’ll be very straightforward with him about our concerns,’ Biden said before the summit. On Monday, he called Putin a ‘worthy adversary.’

The Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1985 took place at the Villa Fleur d’Eau, a newer mansion built in the 19th-century villa. That building has 26 rooms – and is now up for sale. ‘

According to a real estate listing it has been ‘fully converted into offices’ with ‘superior quality materials and is in a state one could consider as new’ and is occupied by a global trading company.

‘However, the building could just as easily be converted back into a dwelling.’ 





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more