President Joe Biden has a modest goal when he sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva this week: make sure the U.S.-Russia relationship doesn’t get any worse.
Putin heads into the June 16 summit with a similar objective, but also pleased to be on the same stage with the U.S. president despite being accused of election interference and encouraging a barrage of cyberattacks.
With both sides agreeing that ties are at a post-Cold War low, there’s no expectation of the strategic friendship that ex-President Donald Trump sought, or a grand nuclear breakthrough like that achieved by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Putin has signaled he’s only further entrenching Russia in Ukraine and pressing ahead with a crackdown on opposition leaders, while U.S. sanctions are staying put.
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