This is is where US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (Images courtesy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Russian Mission in Geneva)
US President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, later today. In their first face-to-face meeting after Biden took over as the US president earlier this year, the two leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, in a bid to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship.
Where will the meeting take place?
The 18th-century lakeside Villa La Grange has been chosen to host the meeting between the Russian and American presidents on Wednesday. The villa is nestled in a magnificent location in the middle of the Parc La Grange, one of the largest and most attractive parks in Geneva. No fewer than 13 municipal services were quickly mobilised to implement the preparations for the Biden-Putin meeting and meticulously carry out all the work necessary to ensure that the two delegations meet in the very best conditions. 36 years ago, another historic meeting had taken place in Geneva between the American President, Ronald Reagan, and the former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbatchev.
What time will the meeting start?
The much-anticipated meeting is expected to begin around 1.35 PM local time (5 PM IST). Both sides expect the talks to continue for around five hours.
Who will arrive at the meeting venue first?
According to a senior US administration official, Putin is expected to arrive first at the villa around 1 PM. He will be greeted by the Swiss President on arrival and taken inside. Biden will arrive after President Putin and will also be taken back inside. Inside, they'll share a short greeting with the Swiss President. All three of them then walk back outside for a photo-op for the press. The only person who is expected to speak during that moment is the Swiss President.
Who all will attend the meeting?
Once inside, both Presidents will move into a smaller meeting — President plus one — on both sides. While US Secretary of State Antony John Blinken will accompany Biden, the Russian president will be joined by his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. And, of course, the translators. The expanded bilateral meeting will begin at 2:55 local time and will include six persons, including the Presidents, on both sides.
Will Biden and Putin break bread?
No breaking of bread will happen. Both Presidents will not share meals even though meetings continue for four or five hours straight, with small breaks in between. "We've agreed with the other side that there will be some flexibility just so that the leaders can make determinations about the best way to conduct their business," the US administration official said.
What all will be discussed?
US says three basic issues will be addressed: First, a clear set of taskings about areas where working together can advance its national interest and make the world safer; Second, a clear laydown of the areas of America’s vital national interests, where Russian activities that run counter to those interests will be met with a response; And thirdly, a clear explication of Biden's vision for American values and our national priorities.
"In a few hours we will learn whether common sense or reckless geopolitical calculations prevailed with our US partners. Hopefully 'highly likely' allegations will give way to factual expert discussions on how to mend what still can be mended #GenevaSummit2021 #BidenPutinSummit," tweeted Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, on Wednesday morning. According to Russian news website Sputnik, both the White House and the Kremlin have announced that the leaders are to touch base on a wide range of topics, ranging from strategic stability, information security and cybercrime to the Arctic, climate change, and the fight against Covid-19. They also plan to discuss prospects for trade and investment cooperation between the two countries during the meeting. The presidents will discuss the Middle East, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the Iranian nuclear programme. Special attention is planned to be paid to Nagorno-Karabakh and Belarus.
Will China be discussed?
The US says that "a sustained conversation with China on arms control-related issues" is needed but Biden has made clear that, at the outset, a bilateral discussion between the two biggest nuclear powers in the world is the way to start.
The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty, expires in February, 2026. The two presidents are expected to discuss in detail through these talks about what comes after New START. The cyber and ransomware issues will also be a significant topic of conversation.
After the meeting concludes, Putin will be meeting the press, Biden's press conference happens immediately afterwards.