U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have arrived on Wednesday at the lush lakeside Swiss mansion for their highly anticipated summit, a moment of high-stakes diplomacy at a time when both leaders agree that relations between their countries are at an all-time low. . For months, the two leaders have traded sharp rhetoric. Biden has repeatedly called out Putin for malicious cyberattacks by Russian-based hackers on U.S. interests, for disregard of democracy in the jailing of Russia’s top opposition leader and for interfering in American elections. Their talks on Wednesday are expected to last four to five hours. In advance, both sides set out to lower expectations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked President Joe Biden and expressed wishes for a “productive” meeting as the two kicked off their meeting in Geneva. Putin told Biden upon first meeting him on Wednesday that he was thankful for the gathering as he knew the U.S. president “had a long trip and lots of work.” But the Russian president emphasized that there are “lots of questions accumulated in Russia-U.S. relations that require discussion on the highest level.” The two are expected to address everything from cybercrime to Russia’s alleged interference in U.S. elections during their meeting. Biden, who has spoken to Putin over the phone, told the Russian leader that “it is always better to meet face to face.”