Biden and Putin to Have High Stakes Meeting

"P20210513AS-0633-2" (United States government work) by The White House

The meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be one of the most awaited moves in the geopolitical theater this year. Although this is not the first time that the two leaders will meet, it will be their very first meeting since Biden became president.

The meeting between Biden and Putin is expected to have a stark contrast in tone, compared to the meeting between former President Trump and Putin in Helsinki in July 2018. 

Back then, former President Trump wanted to meet with Putin at the launch of the summit without anyone else there.

However, the upcoming meeting between Biden and Putin comes as Biden’s first international trip as president of the United States; on this trip, Biden seeks to reaffirm the country’s alliances with G-7 leaders, as well as NATO allies. 

“P20210310AS-1736” (United States government work) by The White House

On Monday, at NATO headquarters, Biden spoke with reporters who spoke with other world leaders, days before his meeting with the Russian leader. 

Biden said every world leader mentioned and thanked him for meeting with Putin. Biden added that he had discussions with world leaders on what they viewed as important; this also included their point of view about what is not important. Finally, Biden added that his counterparts in other countries appreciate his coordination and transparency. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a Russian aide stated that part of the agenda in the upcoming summit is nuclear stability and climate change, as well as cybersecurity. The outlook for Russians and U.S. nationals who are imprisoned in each other’s lands will also be discussed. 

Nevertheless, the aide stated that he cannot tell whether agreements could be reached. 

Here are some of the agendas that the two leaders are expected to talk about.

Cybersecurity and ransomware attacks

Biden is expected to raise concerns about cybersecurity concerns and the string of ransomware attacks that recently happened in the U.S.

Last month, hackers with believed connections to criminals in Russia, also known as the DarkSide, carried out an ransomware-style onslaught against Colonial Pipeline. As a result, the company was forced to shut down; this led to the disruption of almost half of the fuel supply on the East Coast. Gasoline shortages in the Southeast were also experienced. 

However, Kremlin denied claims that they have anything to do with the cyberattacks against U.S. interests. Yet, another ransomware attack happened. 

The latest attack targeted one of the bigget suppliers of meat in the country. Accordingly, the hackers were also traced to a group of Russian origin.

The Kremlin denied allegations that they launched cyberattacks against the U.S. 

Navalny’s imprisonment

Confrontation about the imprisonment and health conditions of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny is also expected. 

Biden mentioned in a NATO press conference that the jailing and health conditions of Navalny are another sign that the Kremlin lacks any real interest in maintaining basic human rights. 

In January, Navalny left Berlin and took a flight to Russia. Navalny spent time in Berlin for six months time after someone poisoned him while in Russia.

However, as soon as Navalny landed in Russia, authorities apprehended him at passport control. Later, Navalny got an over two-year sentence behind bars.

There is a lot for Russia and the United States to work through. However, experts hold little to no hope that the two countries will arrive at “breakthrough” moments.