When asked if he was prepared for his meeting with Putin, Biden responded to the press, “I am always ready.”
President Putin appeared equally ready but realistic.
“We have general topics. If after this meeting we create a mechanism of cooperation in these directions, it will be great. We would be able to say that the meeting wasn’t in vain,” said Putin in a recent interview.
Both men have spent their careers in the business of persuasion, but by very different means.
Biden spent decades on the Senate Foreign Relations committee where old school diplomacy rules the day. Putin plays by Moscow rules where the KGB taught him to recruit spies.
They will arrive at Chateau de la Parc Grange on the shores of Lake Geneva just after lunch to discuss everything from nuclear arms to Russian cyber attacks.
In a best-case scenario, their scheduled five-hour summit ends as did the last such meeting in Geneva. When Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to nothing but started a personal relationship that ended the Cold War.
In a worst-case scenario, Biden will have to back up the tough words leading up to the meeting with tough actions.
According to a senior administration official granted anonymity to disclose internal discussions, Biden is hoping to find small areas of agreement with the Russian president, including potentially returning ambassadors back to Washington and Moscow. Both countries have been without a senior diplomat for months.
Biden is also looking to make progress on a new arms control agreement between the two nations after Russia agreed to a five-year extension of the current agreement in January. And Biden plans to raise issues ranging from cyberattacks to Russia’s alleged involvement in air piracy, as well as Putin’s treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was jailed and poisoned in an act seen as political retribution against him for speaking out against the Russian president.
Since taking office in January, Biden has repeatedly pressed Putin to take action to stop Russian-originated cyberattacks on companies and governments in the U.S. and around the globe and decried the imprisonment of Navalny. Biden also has publicly aired intelligence that suggests — albeit with low to moderate confidence — that Moscow offered bounties to the Taliban to target U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Both Biden and Putin have described the U.S.-Russia relationship as being at an all-time low.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.