Top Kremlin Aide Signals Possible Biden-Putin Summit In June

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(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on January 26, 2021 shows US President Joe Biden (L) speaking in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021; and Russian President Vladimir Putin holding his annual press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. - US President Joe Biden in his first phone call with Vladimir Putin since taking office raised concerns with the Kremlin leader over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Russian "aggression" against Ukraine, the White House said on January 26, 2021. (Photos by JIM WATSON and Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

By RFE/RL

Russian President Vladimir Putin may hold a summit with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in June, a top Kremlin aide said on April 25.

Biden earlier this month proposed a face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader amid spiraling tensions between the two countries.

The Kremlin has suggested it views the summit offer positively and initial discussions with Washington are under way.

Putin’s top foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, said that a final decision on the meeting had not been made but it could happen in June.

“June is being named, there are even concrete dates,” Ushakov said on state-run television channel Rossiya-1.

“We will take a decision depending on many factors,” said Ushakov, a former Russian ambassador to the United States.

Separately on April 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the summit proposal has been “positively perceived and is being considered now.”

A June meeting could potentially coincide with Biden’s planned trip that month to Britain for a G7 summit and the NATO and EU summits in Brussels. The White House has said any Biden-Putin summit would likely be held in a neutral country in Europe, with both Austria and Finland expressing interest in hosting the two leaders.

Tensions between Russia and the United States have continued to worsen over the conflict in Ukraine, new sanctions on Moscow over alleged cyberattacks and election interference, the status of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, and a host of other issues.

In March, Russia was enraged after Biden agreed when asked in an interview if he thought Putin was a “killer,” prompting Moscow to recall its ambassador to Washington for consultations.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan returned to the United States this week for consultations after Moscow recommended that he temporarily leave.

That came as Russia this month declared 10 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to be personae non gratae in what it called a “mirror” response to Washington’s expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats and wide-ranging sanctions as it moved to hold the Kremlin accountable for actions against the United States and its interests.

Biden has repeatedly stated that while he will be tough on Russia over any hostile policies, he is also seeking to cooperate where the two sides have mutual interests. This includes on such issues as nuclear proliferation, climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea, and fostering peace and stability in Afghanistan.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and TASS

 

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