Biden-Putin summit: what’s the agenda?

A policeman arrives in front of one of the entrances to the Parc La Grange at the Eaux-Vives in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 09, 2021. KEYSTONE / MARTIAL TREZZINI

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Geneva this week for a summit that has required the mobilisation of thousands of people, including Russian, US and Swiss staff and journalists. Here’s all you need to know about the event.

On Tuesday at 4:15pm, the famous US Airforce One landed at Geneva Airport, the last stop of President Joe Biden's overseas tour. He will be received by the President of the Council of State of Geneva, Serge Dal Busco and the city mayor Frédérique Perler, according to media outlets.

Before the long-awaited encounter with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the chief of the White House will also meet bilaterally with President Guy Parmelin and head of foreign affairs Ignazio Cassis. Security is already tight around the Intercontinental Hotel, where the US president will be staying and meeting the Swiss delegation.

The US delegation, which also includes the US secretary of state Antony Blinken and security adviser Jake Sullivan, will be meeting their Swiss counterparts at 5:30pm. The discussions are set to focus on cooperation between the two countries in economy, research and education, according to the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.

Parmelin and Cassis will hold a press conference at 6:30pm at the International Conference Center Geneva, a few hundred meters from the Intercontinental Hotel.

The day of the summit. On Wednesday, the Russian president will arrive in Geneva for his face-to-face meeting with President Biden. Putin’s plane will land at Geneva Airport around 12:30pm. The leader will be received by Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Biden at Villa La Grange, where the heads of states will hold bilateral meetings around.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told the Russian News Agency that the two leaders will have a private meeting followed by extended talks between the delegations. Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will be first joining them, but Biden and Putin could also decide to have an additional one-on-one talk, only with translators present.

Regarding the duration of the talks, Ushakov said that it will depend “on how discussions will go and what the mood of the presidents will be like”, but they are estimated to last around five hours. The Russian leader is expected to leave on the same day he arrives.

While there will be no joint press conference, each party will organise separate briefings for members of the press close to their entourage.

Geneva under lockdown. On Tuesday, the eastern side of the lake was still swarming with carefree passersby enjoying the long-awaited summer temperatures. But by Wednesday, the area surrounding the Parc La Grange and Parc des Eaux-Vives, where Biden and Putin are due to meet, will be closed off to the public.

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Map of the security zone defined for the USA-Russia summit on 16 June 2021. Geneva - Brigade Legislation & Traffic (Brigade Législation & Circulation)

Some 1,300 members of the press accredited to cover the summit will be allowed within the perimeter but will have to settle for a view of the barbed-wire walls and fences surrounding the villa in Parc La Grange.

The police of the canton of Geneva and the Swiss military have mobilised together around 3,500 members to ensure security in the areas where the different gatherings will be held as well as the rest of the canton, according to Le Temps. This includes 2,000 police officers, of which 900 come from other cantons, the Geneva police told Geneva Solutions.

At the actual meeting’s locations, Swiss authorities are collaborating with their US and Russian counterparts to ensure security.

All demonstrations on 16 June have also been banned by the Swiss authorities. In the days leading to the summit, demonstrations in Place des Nations in Grand-Saconnex, where Biden will be staying, and around the neighbourhood of Eaux-Vives, where the US-Russia meeting will take place, will also be forbidden. Protesters will be gathering in Plainpalais this afternoon for different reasons, including to call for the release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Regarding rumours of unauthorised protests on Wednesday, the police of the canton of Geneva told Geneva Solutions they were “ready to monitor the security and mobility of non-authorised demonstrations.”

Until Wednesday, traffic will be heavily affected by the summit. The public transportation office of Geneva has said that passengers should expect delays and disturbances. Geneva authorities have recommended citizens to avoid non-essential travel.

Hundreds of staff involved. Organising the event has required all hands on deck from the two guest nations meeting as well as the host country. From the Swiss side, several dozens of staff members from the Swiss permanent mission in Geneva and the Swiss federal department for foreign affairs have been mobilised for the occasion. The Russian and US delegations each count with the support of around 800 people, according to Le Temps.


This article has been updated to include the latest news about the US-Russia summit.