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US-Russian relations are so bad only a summit can fix them, says Putin spokesman

“The main reason for him [to go] is the poor state of relations between our two countries. And a critical level of this relationship which requires a summit between our two countries because it is the only way (…) to prevent a further deterioration of our dialogue, “Peskov told CNN.

Next week’s high-stakes summit in Geneva comes as relations between the two nations recently reached new lows during the first months of the Biden administration.

The United States announced sweeping sanctions in April, punishing Moscow for its interference in the 2020 US election, its ongoing occupation and “serious human rights violations” in Crimea, and the SolarWinds cyberattack – l one of the worst data breaches to ever hit the US government.
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov was recalled from Washington after Biden called Putin a killer in March. US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.
Biden said in a U.S. troop hangar on Wednesday that he was in Europe defending the very concept of democracy and warned his Russian counterpart that he planned to raise sensitive issues during their conversation. “I’m heading to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial meeting and then meeting with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know,” Biden said.

That is why the summit will be “a very good opportunity” to express the concerns of the two countries, Peskov said Friday.

He also accused the United States of having frozen dialogue between the two countries for the past five to seven years “in all areas, including areas vital both to our people and even to humanity,” as [the] fight against terror [attacks], with climate change, economic cooperation, cooperation in vaccines, in the pandemic … they refuse to cooperate with us in the fight against digital crime, etc.

As for reports that there will not be a joint press conference at the end of the Biden-Putin summit, Peskov told CNN that Russia is not expecting one. However, the Kremlin said negotiations are continuing on the final format.

“We have heard of such a possibility from our American counterparts, but we are still awaiting final confirmation, but from the very beginning President Putin has been open to any alternatives,” Peskov said.

Peskov added that Putin was ready to attend a joint press conference or hold one in Geneva.

One tricky issue Biden can hope to raise is that of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who was jailed earlier this year for allegedly violating probation terms in a 2014 case.

However, Peskov told CNN that Putin does not plan to engage with Biden over Navalny – whom Putin never refers to by name.

When asked if Putin plans to not back down on the issue if it comes up at Wednesday’s summit, the Kremlin spokesman said: “Well, there is nothing to discuss about this. . There is nothing to discuss about this gentleman. He is in prison, and he is not on the agenda of our bilateral relations. “

A Moscow court ruled on Wednesday that two organizations linked to Navalny were “extremist” groups, forcing them to shut down and rendering their members ineligible for the next election. Both groups deny the accusation of extremism.

For Biden, the goal of the Geneva summit is to facilitate a more stable and predictable diplomatic relationship with Russia.
But his administration has low expectations for the meeting and tempered suggestions that the United States and Russia would pull out of the meeting with groundbreaking deals.

“We don’t think of the US-Russian summits in terms of expected outcomes,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters this week. “We think of it as an opportunity to communicate what our intentions and capabilities are.”

Next Wednesday’s conversation is likely to be a busy one for both leaders, with the agenda set to include cyber attacks, human rights abuses and Russia’s actions in Ukraine, according to U.S. officials.

Biden initially proposed the summit with the Russian president in April during a phone call, and the two sides have since been working to finalize details.

Despite the deterioration of 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.

Their meeting will mark the end of Biden’s first trip abroad as US president, starting with the Group of Seven summit at a seaside resort in Cornwall, UK. After the G7 closes on Sunday, Biden heads to Brussels for the NATO summit followed by his meeting with Putin.


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