Biden and Putin meet for face-to-face Geneva talks amid worsening US-Russia ties

16 June 2021, 15:34 | Updated: 16 June 2021, 16:50

Joe Biden is speaking to Vladimir Putin in Geneva
Joe Biden is speaking to Vladimir Putin in Geneva. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Joe Biden has held face-to-face talks with Vladimir Putin as relations between the US and Russia remain at one of their lowest points in history.

The US president shook hands and used positive language ahead of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, while the Russian leader said he hopes talks will prove "productive".

Their discussions at a villa in the city were expected to focus on arms control, hacking and election interference, and ended just after 4pm UK time.

Both leaders have taken swipes at each other in recent months.

Mr Biden has criticised Russia for cyberattacks, jailing opposition leader Alexei Navalny and interference in American elections. He described his opposite number in Russia as a "killer" who has "no soul".

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In April, he told Mr Putin he would expel Russian diplomats and impose sanctions against individuals and companies after accusing Russia of meddling in the 2020 presidential election and hacking federal agencies.

Russian-based hackers have launched serious attacks on a major US oil pipeline and a meat supplier in recent months.

Mr Putin has reacted with "whatabout-isms" and used the January disorder at the US Capitol to argue that America cannot tell Russia about democracy.

He insists the Russian government has not been involved in election interference or cyberattacks despite US intelligence saying otherwise.

The two are expected to talk for about four to five hours.

"We should decide where it's in our mutual interest, in the interest of the world, to cooperate, and see if we can do that," Mr Biden said earlier in the week.

"And the areas where we don't agree, make it clear what the red lines are."

He added: "He's bright. He's tough. And I have found that he is a - as they say... a worthy adversary."

Individual news conferences are scheduled with both presidents after they conclude their talks.

There are hopes some areas of agreement will be made, including the return of each nations' ambassador to their posts.

The Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled three months ago, after Mr Biden called Mr Putin a killer, while the US ambassador left nearly two months ago when Russia suggested he return for consultations.