US President Joe Biden is using the time away from summits on his European tour this week to intensify preparations ahead of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, according to officials, as he works to avoid those pitfalls. which his predecessors had encountered in their meeting with the Russians. leader.
Most of his formal meetings this week have started in the afternoon, leaving his morning free for advisors to consult. He has held lengthy preparatory sessions with senior officials, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, in which he plans to discuss a range of issues with Putin, from cyber to Syria to Ukraine.
According to people familiar with the talks, the president has asked foreign leaders in the G7, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for their input as he prepares for the meeting in Geneva.
Putin also came as a point of conversation during tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, Biden told reporters, adding she “wanted to know” about the Russian president.
Noting that some NATO allies had expressed concerns about the optics of Biden’s summit with Putin, Sullivan said Biden was “what about Putin” with leaders during a summit of the Defense Coalition on Monday. intend to talk about” privately.
“He gets to hear from him too, so that he will go to Geneva with the full support and solidarity of all our NATO allies,” Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One Sunday. Sullivan in particular highlighted Biden’s meeting with Turkish President Erdogan on Monday as an opportunity to “compare notes.”
As Biden becomes the fifth straight US president with whom Putin has met, officials want Biden to be drawn to Putin’s tactics, including his famous habit of bringing discussions of Russia’s bad practices back to the United States. is. Biden has told aides he believes Putin will respond directly during their talks, and wants to be prepared to deliver a clear message.
“He’s more ready!” Biden’s wife, Jill, said last week when asked whether her husband was prepared to meet with Putin.
As with Merkel, Biden has opened the door to input from other key aides in the bilateral meetings and talks at the margins over the past several days. The idea serves a dual purpose, aides said: While Biden’s decades in foreign policy gave him self-assurance about his approach, he sees value in the views of others who have had similar meetings with the Russian leader.
From CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Phil Mattingly, Jeff Zeleny, Caitlan Collins in Brussels and Natasha Bertrand in Geneva