Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that he does not expect "major breakthroughs" from his meeting with Joe Biden on 16 June. However, despite being sceptical about his first meeting with Biden as president, he believes that it could improve cooperation between the two countries in areas of common interest. Putin referred to the fight against environmental problems, strategic security and some regional crises. "This is very important because it has to do with the security of our countries," the Russian president declared in a telematic interview with international agencies.
Putin has expressed his desire to improve ties with the United States, as the relationship between Moscow and Washington is not at its best. "We need to find ways to seek a settlement in our relations, which are now at an extremely low level," Putin said on Friday at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. The Russian president has alluded to existing tensions between the two countries, saying they "were not created by the Russian side". Shortly after arriving at the White House, Biden called Putin a "murderer" over the Navalny affair and accused Moscow of electoral interference and cyberattacks. In addition, his administration's first sanctions targeted Russian authorities.
The crisis on the Russian-Ukrainian border also heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow. This new escalation was a display of Russian arms power. Putin has admitted that they are successfully developing new weapons systems, although he clarified that "all countries, all military powers do it". "We are just one step ahead", he explained.
Earlier, Biden had already made statements about his meeting with Putin. During a Memorial Day event, the US president said he plans to discuss respect for human rights with his Russian counterpart. "We will not stand by and we will not let him abuse those rights," Biden warned. In a press release, the White House said it seeks to "restore predictability and stability to US-Russian relations". In an April phone call between the two leaders, Biden had already made it clear to Putin that he is "not seeking to initiate a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia". In mid-May the first meeting between US and Russian diplomacy took place at a meeting of the Arctic Council.
The coronavirus will undoubtedly be an issue that the two leaders will address during the summit. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is already being supplied to 67 countries, the latest to approve it being Brazil, one of the nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), on the other hand, has not yet approved it. However, in some European countries, such as Hungary and Slovakia, it has begun to be administered, creating controversy with Brussels.
Several countries have accused Russia of using the vaccine to increase its influence in regions such as Latin America and the Middle East. Putin has dismissed such criticism as "nonsense", defending Russian educational and technological progress.