President Joe Biden (L) and President Vladimir Putin.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, the White House said Tuesday.
“The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a brief statement.
The announcement comes less than a week after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov held cautious face-to-face talks in Iceland.
The meeting between Blinken and Lavrov are the highest-level in-person talks yet between Washington and Moscow under the Biden administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gesture as they arrive for a meeting at the Harpa Concert Hall, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit, in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 19, 2021.
Saul Loeb | Reuters
A potential June meeting between Biden and Putin comes as the U.S. pushes back against Russia on a number of fronts.
Earlier this month, the Colonial Pipeline fell victim to a sweeping ransomware attack that forced the U.S. company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline, leading to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast fuel supply and causing gasoline shortages in the Southeast.
Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.
The assault which was carried out by a Russian criminal cybergroup known as DarkSide is the latest cyberattack targeting U.S. critical infrastructure. After the attack, Biden told reporters at the White House that the U.S. did not currently have intelligence linking the DarkSide group’s ransomware attack to the Russian government.
“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this,” Biden said on May 10. He added that he would discuss the situation with Putin.
The Kremlin has previously denied claims that it has launched cyberattacks against the United States.
In March, the United States sanctioned seven members of the Russian government for the alleged poisoning and subsequent detention of Alexei Navalny, the leading critic of Putin in Russia. The sanctions were the first to target Moscow under Biden’s leadership. The Trump administration did not take action against Russia over the Navalny situation.
Later in the month, Biden called Putin a “killer” and vowed the Russian leader would “pay a price” for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election and trying to boost Trump’s reelection chances.
In April, Washington slapped Russia with another round of U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses, sweeping cyberattacks and attempts to influence U.S. elections. The Biden administration also expelled 10 officials from Russia’s diplomatic mission in the United States.
Moscow has previously denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed U.S. allegations. Russia described the latest moves by the White House as a blow to bilateral relations and vowed to impose swift retaliatory measures.
In response to the U.S. action, Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats from the American Embassy in Moscow and sanctioned eight senior U.S. administration officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
This is breaking news. Check back for updates.