Moscow (CNN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, not only to appear on the same platform as US President Joe Biden, but because “the poor state of relations” between the two countries calls for a summit, the spokesman for the Russian Federation said. Kremlin Dmitry Peskov in an exclusive interview this Friday.“The main reason for me to go is the poor state of relations between the two countries. And a critical level of this relationship that requires a summit between our respective countries, because it is the only way … to avoid further degradation of our dialogue, “Peskov told CNN.
Next week’s summit in Geneva comes at a time when relations between the two nations have reached new lows in the first months of the Biden administration.
The United States announced in April a series of drastic sanctions to punish Moscow for its interference in the 2020 elections, its occupation and its “serious human rights abuses” in Crimea, and the SolarWinds cyberattack, one of the worst data breaches. suffered by the United States government.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, was removed from Washington after Biden called Putin an assassin in March. The US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, left Moscow after Russia suggested that he return to Washington for consultations.
Biden said Wednesday at a US troop hangar that he was in Europe to defend the very concept of democracy and warned his Russian counterpart that he planned to raise sensitive issues during his talk. “I am addressing the G7, then the NATO ministerial meeting, and then meeting with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know,” Biden said.
Therefore, the summit will be “a very good opportunity” to air the concerns of both countries, Peskov said on Friday.
In addition, he accused the United States of freezing the dialogue between the two countries for the last five or seven years “in all areas, including those vital to our peoples and even to humanity, such as the fight against [atentados] terrorists, against climate change, economic cooperation, cooperation on vaccines, in the pandemic … they refuse to cooperate with us in the fight against digital crime, etc ».
Regarding reports that there would be no joint press conference at the end of the Biden-Putin summit, Peskov told CNN that Russia was not expecting one. However, the Kremlin said negotiations on the final format are continuing.
“We have heard about this possibility from our US counterparts, but we are still awaiting final confirmation, but from the beginning President Putin has been open to any alternative,” Peskov said.
Peskov added that Putin was willing to participate in a joint press conference or hold one of his own in Geneva.
One sensitive issue Biden can hope to raise is that of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who was jailed earlier this year for allegedly violating parole terms of a 2014 case.
However, Peskov told CNN that Putin did not plan to broach the issue of Navalny with Biden, which Putin never refers to by name.
When asked if Putin planned not to back down on the issue if it is addressed at Wednesday’s summit, the Kremlin spokesman said: “Well, there is nothing to discuss about it. There is nothing to discuss about this gentleman. He is in jail and it is not an issue on the agenda of our bilateral relations.
A Moscow court ruled on Wednesday that two organizations linked to Navalny are “extremist” groups, which forces them to close and makes their members unable to stand in the next elections. Both groups deny the charge 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 keeps its expectations for the meeting low, and has tempered suggestions that the United States and Russia exit the meeting with some groundbreaking deal.
“We do not think of the US-Russian summits in terms of results,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters this week. “We are thinking of it as an opportunity to communicate what our intentions and capabilities are.”
The conversation next Wednesday will likely be tense for both leaders, as the agenda is expected to include cyberattacks, human rights violations and Russia’s actions in Ukraine, according to US officials.
Biden initially proposed the summit with the Russian president in April during a phone call, and both sides have been working to finalize the details since then.
Despite the deterioration of relations between the two countries on issues such as Ukraine and electoral interference, Biden hopes to establish a clear communication channel that avoids unwanted surprises.
Their meeting will mark the end of Biden’s first trip abroad as president of the United States, which begins with the Group of Seven summit at a Cornish seaside resort in the United Kingdom. Following the conclusion of the G7, on Sunday, Biden will head to Brussels to attend the NATO summit, which will be followed by his meeting with Putin.