Biden to press Putin on human rights at June meeting

US and Russian presidents will meet in Geneva on June 16 amid frosty relations between Washington and Moscow.

The White House said last week that US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin would discuss 'a range of issues' during the meeting next month in Switzerland [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

United States President Joe Biden has said he plans to press his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on human rights during a summit in Geneva next month.

During a speech to mark the Memorial Day holiday on Sunday, Biden said he would make clear during the meeting that “we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights”.

Biden and Putin, who have exchanged some harsh words and rebukes since the US president took office in January, will meet on June 16.

“The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement last week confirming the summit.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Biden and Putin would discuss bilateral ties, problems related to strategic nuclear stability, and other issues including cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and regional conflicts.

The leaders’ first in-person meeting comes as relations between Washington and Moscow are strained over several issues, including alleged Russian cyberattacks against the US and the detention of Alexey Navalny, a critic of the Kremlin.

Last month, Biden announced he was imposing a slew of new sanctions against Russia and expelling 10 of the country’s diplomats in response to the 2020 hack, known as the SolarWinds breach.

The US president said he told Putin in an April 13 phone call that the US “could have gone further”, but “is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia”.

Russian hackers are believed to have infected widely used software with malicious code, enabling them to access the networks of at least nine agencies. US officials have also accused Putin of authorising influence operations to help former US President Donald Trump in his unsuccessful bid for re-election in November last year.

Russia has denied involvement in the SolarWinds hack and the alleged election meddling.

US-Russian tensions have also increased over Ukraine after the Biden administration and its allies accused Moscow of “provocations” over a Russian military build-up along the border with eastern Ukraine.

Russia denied its movements near the border posed a threat.

Biden at the time said he had reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of “unwavering support” in Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia-backed separatists holding parts of the eastern Donbas region.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies