5 top issues facing the U.S.-Russia relationship

As relations between the United States and Russia have reached an agreed low point, President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The meeting in Geneva marks the first time an American leader has met Putin since 2018, when former President Donald Trump met with the autocrat in Helsinki. They are expected to discuss a number of topics, from the hacking of private American companies to how Russia is treating the political opposition.

Although Biden has met with various world leaders, many have been strong allies of the United States. The president’s meeting with Putin will be one of the first that could be controversial.

Biden said on Monday that he spoke with his foreign counterparts about aggressive acts by Russia that posed a threat to security, particularly in recent malicious cyberattacks. He said that he would make it clear where the red lines are at his next meeting with Putin.

I am not seeking a conflict with Russia, but we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities, Biden said.

The summit: President Biden prepares for clash in Geneva with Vladimir Putin after allied European tour

These are the main problems facing the relationship between the United States and Russia:

A shared dislike for each other
Biden has shared an unfavorable view of Putin, who has been critical of Biden.

In March, Biden, during an interview on ABC News, agreed with a description that Putin is a “murderer.” George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked Biden: “So you already know Vladimir Putin. Do you think he is a murderer?

“Yes,” Biden replied.

He also vowed to make Russia, and Putin, pay for alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election. Following Biden’s interview on ABC News, Putin responded to Biden’s comments on Russian television by saying: “Who said it, it did, according to Reuters.

Earlier this year, a declassified US intelligence report showed that Russia and its representatives carried out an operation aimed at denigrating Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, which the intelligence community concluded that Putin authorized.

Putin, during an interview with NBC News that aired in its entirety Monday, called Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, an extraordinary and talented individual. The Russian president went on to say that Biden is radically different from Trump.

President Biden is a career man, Putin said. He has spent practically his entire adulthood in politics.

Cyber ​​attacks on infrastructure
Notable cyberattacks with alleged ties to Russia are expected to emerge.

In May, Biden ousted Russian diplomats and announced sanctions against Russia regarding the 2020 SolarWinds hack, which targeted multiple US federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, State and Energy.

US intelligence agencies believe that the SolarWinds hack is the work of SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. The hackers went unnoticed for nine months while targeting US government departments, some 100 private companies and various organizations in the UK. Approximately 18,000 customers had installed malicious software from the attack.

DarkSide, a cybercrime network believed to be based in Russia, is the main culprit in a ransomware attack that Colonial Pipeline shut down in early May.

Silenced political opposition
Biden has criticized Putin’s crackdown on Russia’s political opposition.

In February, Alexei Navalny, an activist and one of Putin’s fiercest critics, was jailed in Russia for violating conditions of parole. Navalny was returning from Germany in January, where he was receiving treatment for nerve agent poisoning.

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Putin, in a recent interview with NBC News, could not guarantee that Navalny would get out of prison alive and denied ordering an assassination attempt against the anti-corruption crusader.

Look, those decisions in this country are not made by the president, Putin said when asked if he could guarantee that Navalny would get out of prison alive.

Belarus and Ukraine
Putin has pledged financial and military support to Belarus, even as President Alexander Lukashenko faces international outrage over human rights violations.

Lukashenko has used violence to suppress largely peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations and he is suspected of ordering the diversion of a commercial airline flight to facilitate the arrest of Raman Pratasevich, a dissident journalist. Lukashenko has faced sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

Furthermore, Biden and Putin will likely discuss Russia’s ongoing territorial aggressions with Ukraine.

Last week, during a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden affirmed the “unwavering commitment of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression in Donbas and Crimea,” according to a reading of the call. .

Havana syndrome
Russia is suspected of being behind the Havana syndrome, which has affected a group of diplomats and US government employees, according to US intelligence assessments.

Havana syndrome is a mysterious and difficult-to-treat neurological condition whose symptoms include headaches, tinnitus, and balance problems. Information released in May revealed that two White House officials were affected by the mysterious illness late last year.

Dozens of other officials around the world have been affected by the disease, and cases were suspected in Cuba, China, Europe and the United States.

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