A flight packed with international journalists circled towards the runway at Brussels airport on Tuesday morning, and US government planes were clearly visible from passenger windows. They were waiting to transport President Biden and his NATO summit delegation to Belgium to his long-awaited meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.
Biden gave a sneak peek to many of those same reporters, including FOX Business, during a press briefing Monday night.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” the 78-year-old president said, promising not to reveal his strategy for dealing with Putin until the meeting began.
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However, he described Putin as “brilliant”, calling the Russian leader a “worthy adversary”.
“I will make it clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate if he wishes,” Biden said. “If he chooses not to cooperate… then we will respond.”
Topics of discussion include cybersecurity – following a spate of recent ransomware attacks affecting U.S. businesses – as well as the poisoning and jail of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. After Putin said he couldn’t guarantee Navalny would leave prison alive, Biden was questioned at Monday night’s press conference about the significance of Navalny’s death. He said it would be “another indication that Russia has little or no intention of respecting basic human rights. It would be a tragedy.”
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In addition to cybersecurity concerns, other financial issues are being watched closely, including the soon-to-be-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will link Russia to Germany. Last month, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on the Russian company behind the project in an apparent attempt to improve relations with Germany.
Analysts say potential areas for cooperation include what advisers on both sides call “strategic stability,” which refers to a basic balance of power that prevents the two nuclear powers from descending into open conflict. Discussions on arms control and possible cooperation on climate issues fall under this umbrella.
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While this international financial center is preparing to welcome these two world powers, expectations of tangible results in Geneva remain relatively low, but the anticipation of this face-to-face meeting is skyrocketing in the Swiss Alps.