U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have scheduled a face-to-face meeting for June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. The planned summit meeting was announced in separate statements from the White House and the Kremlin on May 25.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the two leaders would discuss "the full range of pressing issues" in an effort "to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship." The statement can be read in its entirety at whitehouse.gov/briefing-room. The Kremlin statement said that Biden and Putin would talk about "strategic stability problems" along with "countering the coronavirus pandemic and settlement of regional conflicts." The statement can be read at en.kremlin.ru/d/65655.

Politico said "talks on nuclear arms" would be high on the agenda of the summit meeting. However, the news site said "no significant agreements" were expected from the meeting, which would be mostly an opportunity for the two leaders to express complaints and to see what the likelihood was for addressing common problems in the future.

Rising Tension

USA Today noted that tension between the US and Russia has grown since Biden replaced Donald Trump as America's president. The newspaper recalled that, in March 2021, the Biden administration had levied sanctions on Russia in response to government's treatment of anti-Putin activist Alexei Navalny.

One month later, more sanctions followed in response to the SolarWinds cyberattack and Russian meddling in the 2020 American election, according to USA Today.

Biden calls Putin 'a killer'

USA Today and other papers recalled that during an interview with ABC News in March 2021, Biden had been asked whether he thought Putin was "a killer" and the American President replied "I do." Soon after the interview, The Sun reported that Russia had recalled its ambassador to the U.S.

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Former U.S. diplomat Brett Bruen was quoted by USA Today as saying that Biden intended the June 16 meeting "as a chance to offer Russia an off ramp from the rogue road" but Putin apparently was not interested.

Fighting COVID-19

The Kremlin statement did not mention how Russia and the U.S. might cooperate in the fight against COVID-19.

The day before the announcement of the June 16 summit, Reuters reported that the Indian firm Panacea Biotec had begun production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus.

Geneva's history of diplomacy

Politico noted that the site of the planned summit meeting, the Swiss city of Geneva, had often hosted important diplomatic events. The news site recalled that, in 1985, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan had met there for the first time. Geneva had also hosted some of the negotiations for the Iran nuclear agreement, Politico pointed out.