Both sides have downplayed the chances of breakthroughs at a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland, as the U.S. leader arrived in Geneva on the third leg of a major European trip.
The meeting at Lake Geneva on June 16 is their first since Biden became president, as the bilateral relationship is at what both men said this week was its lowest point in years.
A Kremlin aide said on June 15 that he still thought the summit would be useful, while a Biden administration official cautioned against expecting a lot of "deliverables."
"We're not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," the unnamed Biden team member said as Air Force One landed.
During a news conference on June 14 in Brussels, Biden was asked about the specifics of the agenda of the summit, but he declined to provide any or assess how he'll measure success.
He suggested he'd be looking for areas of agreement with Putin, while also warning him against continued aggression toward the United States and its allies.
Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yury Ushakov, told reporters on June 15 that the agenda -- apart from the final communiques -- was confirmed in his phone call with White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan on June 14.
Nuclear stability, climate change, cybersecurity, and the fate of U.S. and Russian nationals who are in prison in each other's countries would be on the agenda, Ushakov said.
"I'm not sure that any agreements will be reached. I look at this meeting with practical optimism," Ushakov told reporters in comments cleared for publication on June 14. TASS also quoted Ushakov as saying the meeting was set to start at 1 p.m. local time.
"I'm gonna make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and other activities, then we will respond, we will respond in kind," Biden said.
Biden who in March said he believed Putin was a "killer," described the Russian president on March 14 as "bright," "tough," and a "worthy adversary."
But he indicated he would remain wary of any commitments coming out of their meeting, saying he would "verify first and then trust."
Russian-U.S. ties reached a post-Cold War low following Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014. Washington also accuses Moscow of interference in the 2016 presidential election and has imposed sanctions on Russian companies and individuals.
"The situation is just close to critical. Of course, something should be done in this context," said Ushakov, who was the Russian ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2008.