President Joe Biden landed on Tuesday in Geneva on the eve of his first summit with Vladimir Putin, a meeting the White House hopes will set clear “red lines” preventing the combustible US-Russia relationship from further deterioration.
“I’m always ready,” Biden told reporters with a smile, when asked if he was prepared for the tense encounter.
Biden and Putin will huddle for hours on Wednesday at an elegant villa complex in Geneva, a setting reminiscent of the Cold War Reagan-Gorbachev summit in the Swiss city in 1985.
Talks at La Grange villa are expected to start at around 1100 GMT and last as long as five hours. Illustrating the frostiness of the session, the two leaders will not be sharing any kind of meal.
“There will be no breaking of bread,” a senior US official said aboard Air Force One, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One of the few things both sides can agree on is that Russian-US relations are at about their lowest ebb since the distant days of the US-Soviet superpower standoff.
This time, tensions are less about strategic nuclear weapons and competing ideologies than what the Biden administration sees as an increasingly rogue, authoritarian Russian state.