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Politics: Images of Biden's meeting with Putin show a cool but cordial dynamic as the president seeks a reset after Trump

Biden prepares to confront Putin

  Biden prepares to confront Putin President Biden's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva this week marks the latest chapter in a highly adversarial relationship.Biden has always been blunt in his assessments of Putin, telling the Russian leader to his face a decade ago that he believes he has "no soul" and calling Putin a "killer" in a televised news interview earlier this year.White House allies say that Biden will go into the meeting with open eyes and well-prepared to confront Putin over Russia's aggressive conduct and to lay out consequences for further provocations.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden in Geneva, Switzerland. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images © Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden in Geneva, Switzerland. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • Images show the cool atmosphere as Biden and Putin met in Geneva on Wednesday.
  • Biden's stance toward Russia marks a major shift from Trump.
  • Trump's Helsinki summit with Putin was one of the most infamous moments of his presidency.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday at a time when US-Russia relations are at a historic low. It was Biden's first face-to-face meeting as commander-in-chief with the Russian president.

Biden, unlike predecessors, has maintained Putin skepticism

  Biden, unlike predecessors, has maintained Putin skepticism BRUSSELS (AP) — President Joe Biden frequently talks about what he sees as central in executing effective foreign policy: building personal relationships. But unlike his four most recent White House predecessors, who made an effort to build a measure of rapport with Vladimir Putin, Biden has made clear that the virtue of fusing a personal connection might have its limits when it comes to the Russian leader. The president, who is set to meet with Putin face-to-face on Wednesday in Geneva, has repeated an anecdote about his last meeting with Putin, 10 years ago when he was vice president and Putin was serving as prime minister.

Biden's approach to relations with Putin has marked a significant shift in the US stance toward Russia in comparison to the past four years under former President Donald Trump.

The atmosphere appeared cool, if cordial, as Biden and Putin greeted one another on Wednesday in keeping with the new president's view that Russia is a leading US adversary. Photos showed the leaders smiling as they exchanged a handshake before news photographers. Another image shows Biden making a point with his fists raised as Putin looks on during a meeting.

Trump's behavior toward Putin repeatedly sparked criticism in Washington and fueled suspicions about the president's loyalties. The former president repeatedly expressed admiration for Putin and avoided criticizing him on any level, even as the Russian leader became increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive on the global stage.

Putin talks hacking, Navalny and Capitol riot in NBC interview ahead of Biden summit

  Putin talks hacking, Navalny and Capitol riot in NBC interview ahead of Biden summit In an exclusive interview, Putin again denied that Russian hackers or the government itself were behind cyberattacks in the U.S. were "farcical," and he challenged NBC News, and by implication the U.S. government, to produce proof that Russians were involved."We have been accused of all kinds of things," Putin said. "Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.

In one of the most infamous moments of his presidency, Trump during a July 2018 summit in Helsinki appeared to side with Putin over the US intelligence community on the subject of Russian election interference.

US intelligence agencies concluded that Putin directed interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections to help boost Trump's chances of winning. An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found that Trump's campaign welcomed Russia's interference in the 2016 election, but didn't uncover sufficient evidence to merit conspiracy charges.

Biden during his 2020 campaign pledged to confront Putin as president and excoriated Trump over his handling of US-Russia relations, accusing his predecessor of being far too soft on his Russian counterpart.

The president has said he doesn't seek conflict with Russia but wants to establish more stable, predictable relations, which is why he proposed holding a summit with Putin in a third country. Experts have expressed skepticism over what Biden can achieve via meeting with Putin, who has been an intractable leader over his 20 years in power.

With US-Russia relations at low point, Biden, Putin each bring a wariness to Geneva summit

  With US-Russia relations at low point, Biden, Putin each bring a wariness to Geneva summit When Joe Biden meets Vladimir Putin in Geneva the West's favorite geopolitical bogeyman is not likely to get the easy pass he got from Donald TrumpThree years ago this July, former President Donald Trump stood side by side with the Russian autocrat at a press conference in Finland's capital and blithely dismissed assessments from his own intelligence agencies, defense officials and American lawmakers about Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The Biden administration has countered this criticism by underscoring that meeting with adversaries face-to-face is vital to working trough differences.

Beyond Russia's interference in US elections, the contentious dynamic between Washington and Moscow has been driven by the annexation of Crimea, the war in Ukraine involving Russia-backed rebels, cybersecurity concerns, the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the Syria conflict, and more.

Heading into Wednesday's highly anticipated summit, Biden was expected to focus heavily on US concerns about cyber attacks while also pushing for new talks and commitments on nuclear arms control.

Unlike the Helsinki summit, there was no joint press conference in Geneva.

"In Helsinki in 2018 at his presser with Trump, Putin did not tell the truth and played whataboutism. So why give him a platform next to Biden to possibly do the same here in Geneva? Parallel pressers, not a joint one, is the right move," Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, tweeted.

Here are photos of Biden and Putin in Geneva, and photos of Putin and Trump in various meetings over the years.

Biden-Putin summit live updates: 'I'm always ready,' Biden says

  Biden-Putin summit live updates: 'I'm always ready,' Biden says President Joe Biden will meet face-to-face with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Switzerland on Wednesday amid rising tensions between the two countries.The two men will face off inside an 18th-century Swiss villa in Geneva, situated alongside a lake in the middle of the Parc de la Grange. The fifth American president to sit down with Putin, Biden has spoken with him and met him before, in 2016.

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Opinion: How meeting with Biden put Putin on top of the world .
The Geneva summit never should have happened, writes Garry Kasparov. Now that it's over, I'm even more mystified as to why it happened at all. I can answer for Putin, of course. Dictators love events that put them on an equal footing with democratic leaders and sitting one-on-one with the president of the United States is the most coveted prize of all. Putin already scored a major victory the moment the summit was announced, especially since Biden himself proposed the meeting. For Putin, it wasn't just a meeting between heads of government -- for him, it was literally the highest point, the top of the world.

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