What Putin really wants from Biden

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The Geneva summit between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden on 16 June will not be a friendly encounter.

For a start, Russia recently included the US on its official list of “unfriendly states”.

Both sides describe relations as at rock bottom and neither currently has an ambassador in-country; senior Russian officials are under American sanctions for everything from annexing Ukraine’s Crimea to alleged election meddling, and two former US marines are now in Russian prisons – one serving 16 years accused of espionage.

On top of all that, there’s the moment in March when Joe Biden agreed with an interviewer that Vladimir Putin was “a killer”. And yet, the two men are set to meet as presidents for the first time, and some in Russia see that as an achievement in itself.

“The summit is important in terms of symbolism; it puts Russia in the same league as the US, and for Putin symbolism is not unimportant,” says Andrei Kortunov, director of the RIAC think-tank in Moscow.

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