Joe Biden to put on show of Western strength ahead of Vladimir Putin meeting

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference after attending the G7 summit on Sunday - Patrick Semansky/AP
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference after attending the G7 summit on Sunday - Patrick Semansky/AP

Joe Biden will use summit talks in Brussels to put on a show of Western strength ahead of his showdown with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Mr Biden will meet Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, and Charles Michel, the European Council president, for the first EU-US summit since 2014.

He has warned the Russian leader that he will set out red lines in the discussions in Geneva and make clear the West would retaliate if Russia continued its harmful activities.

The US president will be looking to repair relations with the EU that were badly damaged by his Brexit-supporting predecessor Donald Trump.

US officials will try to settle long-standing trade tensions with the EU to buttress the show of unity.

One EU source said that the ongoing row with Britain over the Northern Ireland Protocol would only be mentioned in passing in talks with Mr Biden, who is a proud Irish-American. Another denied it would be discussed at all.

Police officers travel to the Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, where Joe Biden is to arrive on Tuesday ahead of his summit with Vladimir Putin - Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe
Police officers travel to the Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, where Joe Biden is to arrive on Tuesday ahead of his summit with Vladimir Putin - Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe

Brussels is looking to defuse tensions over border checks in the Irish Sea, as the UK and EU teeter on the brink of a possible trade war. “It will not be a big point,” said a diplomat. “No one wants to upgrade it.”

The EU wants to set up "high-level dialogue" on Russia with the United States to counter what they say is Moscow's drift into authoritarianism and anti-Western sentiment.

The bloc imposed sanctions on the Kremlin for the illegal annexation of Crimea and hit officials with asset freezes and travel bans after the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

At the same time, the 27-nation EU is deeply divided in its approach to Moscow. Russia is the EU's biggest natural gas supplier, and plays a key role in a series of international conflicts and key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, and conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Since taking office in January, Mr Biden has repeatedly pressed Putin to take action to stop Russian-originated cyberattacks on companies and governments in the US and around the globe.

Joe Biden shakes hands with Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2011 - Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Joe Biden shakes hands with Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2011 - Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

He has decried the imprisonment of Mr Navalny, and publicly aired intelligence that suggests—albeit with low to moderate confidence—that Moscow offered bounties to the Taliban to target US troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The EU meeting follows a Nato summit in the Belgian capital on Monday. Nato leaders in their communiqué on Monday took a big swipe at Russia, deploring its aggressive military activities and snap wargames near the borders of Nato countries, as well as the repeated violation of the 30 nations' airspace by Russian planes.

Mr Biden will meet with the top EU officials at a moment when the continent's leaders are becoming impatient that he has not yet addressed Mr Trump’s 2018 decision to impose import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum.

There is also a longstanding dispute over how much of a government subsidy each side unfairly provides for its aircraft manufacturing giants, Boeing in the United States and Airbus in the EU.

Mr Biden, Mr Michel and Mrs von der Leyen are expected to announce the creation of a joint trade and technology council, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

The US-EU summit is also expected to include a communiqué at its conclusion that will address concerns about China's provocative behavior, according to the official.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting