Biden responds to Putin meeting speculation
US President Joe Biden has refused to rule out meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Indonesia next month. However, the State Department insists that Washington’s policy of boycotting Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine has not changed.
“That remains to be seen,” Biden told reporters outside the White House on Thursday, when asked about the possibility of an encounter with Putin on the event's sidelines.
Asked to shed light on the US president’s comment, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters the government’s position on relations with Moscow has not changed.
“I will let the White House speak to any of President Biden’s engagements, but I think the one thing you have seen be pretty clear across the interagency, including from the White House, is that it cannot be business as usual when it comes to Russia” due to the conflict in Ukraine, he said.
The last time Biden and Putin met in person was June 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland. A follow-up summit in December was virtual, and Ukraine was among the topics discussed – along with Russia’s proposal of security guarantees, which the US and NATO rejected the following month.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in August that both Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had promised they would personally attend the G20 summit. However, last month , the Kremlin said the Russian president’s attendance will depend on security and other factors.
“I’ll see,” Putin said when last asked about his attendance, in mid-September. "I’ve been to Bali, it’s a nice place, beautiful, but it's not about beauty, let's see how things will go in our country, economically and in other areas.”
Biden said in March that Russia should be removed from the G20, and the US and its allies have boycotted meetings attended or addressed by Russian representatives all year. Though Ukraine is not a member of the group, its president Vladimir Zelensky was invited to the Bali summit at Washington’s insistence.