(GENEVA) — U.S. President Joe Biden holds a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday at what the leaders agree is a “low point” in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

The two men will face off inside an 18th-century Swiss villa, situated alongside a lake in the middle of Geneva’s Parc de la Grange. The fifth American president to sit down with Putin, Biden has spoken with him and met him before, in 2016.

Having called Putin a “killer” and saying he’s told him before he has no “soul,” Biden told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega on Monday that he also recalled the Russian leader as being “bright” and “tough.”

“And I have found that he is a — as they say, when you used to play ball — a worthy adversary,” Biden said.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 16, 7:30 am
Switzerland’s president wishes Biden and Putin ‘a fruitful meeting’

Swiss President Guy Parmelin wished Biden and Putin “a fruitful meeting” on Wednesday, just minutes before the two leaders sit down for their much-awaited bilateral summit in Geneva.

“On behalf of the Swiss government, I would like to welcome you to Geneva, the city of peace,” Parmelin said in prepared remarks in French while welcoming them to Villa La Grange, where the meeting is taking place.

“It is an honor and a pleasure for Switzerland to host you here for this summit and, in accordance with its tradition of good offices, promote dialog and mutual understanding,” he added. “I wish you both a fruitful meeting in the interest of your two countries and the world.”

Jun 16, 7:22 am
Putin arrives a summit site ahead of Biden

At 7:04 a.m. ET, Putin’s motorcade arrived at the summit site, Villa La Grange. While both leaders tend to run late, Putin was only four minutes behind his scheduled arrival, which came ahead of the American president.

Reporters shouted questions at Putin when he exited his car and was greeted by the Swiss president.

“Do you trust President Biden?” they asked. “How are you feeling sir?”

Putin did not engage.

Jun 16, 6:57 am
Putin touches down in Geneva

Putin’s plane landed in Geneva on Wednesday at around 12:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. ET), as planned, ahead of his meeting with Biden.

The Russian president was seen descending a covered staircase from his jet to the tarmac, where several black cars comprising his motorcade awaited. He gave a small wave before getting in one of the cars. His motorcade departed the tarmac at 12:41 p.m. local time (6:41 a.m. ET).

Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday.

Swiss President Guy Parmelin is scheduled to greet Biden and Putin at Villa La Grange, where their much-awaited summit is taking place, at 1:10 p.m. local time (7:10 a.m. ET). Parmelin is then expected to deliver welcome remarks and pose for a photo with Biden and Putin before the two leaders begin their meeting.

Jun 16, 6:08 am
What Putin wants when he meets Biden

When Putin meets Biden on Wednesday in Switzerland, experts in Moscow say for all their differences, the two leaders want something similar from their first summit: to cool things down.

The U.S. and Russia’s relations are the worst they have been since the Cold War, and since 2016, in particular, seem locked in almost permanent crises.

Biden has said he wants a more stable and predictable relationship with Russia, one that would allow it to focus on other foreign policy priorities that are more important to it, like taking a harder line with China. The Kremlin for its part has faced a continuous and intensifying barrage of sanctions — the latest in April — and with its crackdown on opposition at home and aggressive actions abroad is increasingly becoming a pariah with western countries.

Since coming to office, Russia has appeared to want to get Biden’s attention. The president offered Putin the summit after Russia massed thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border in April.

But now, having got Biden to the table, analysts said Putin has a clear proposal to deliver in Geneva: stay out of Russian domestic politics and Russia might act less troublesome abroad.

“The Kremlin wants to transition to a respectful adversarial relationship from a disrespectful one we have today,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat at Russia’s embassy in Washington and now a commentator on foreign affairs.

“That is, it wants to be treated the same way the Soviet Politburo was treated by the US in 1970-80s,” Frolov told ABC News. “Meaning no name-calling” — such as Biden calling Putin a “killer” — “no personal sanctions on the leadership, no democracy lectures, regular personal summit meetings; respectful tone of discussions, no tangible support for Russian opposition.”

It will not be an invitation for détente but instead to return to the later years of the Cold War when Putin was a KGB agent and the Soviet Union and the U.S. saw each other as enemies but tried to maintain a predictable relationship. And, crucially, where Russia was treated as an equal.

“For this, the Kremlin is prepared to promise to behave more responsibly,” Frolov said.

“This seems to be in line with what the White House sees as a desirable deliverable,” he continued. “So unless one of the leaders stormed out of the meeting shouting expletives, the summit would be a major success.”

Jun 16, 5:11 am
Biden to hold solo press conference

Biden will go before the press corps alone following his summit with Putin in Geneva on Wednesday. He defended that choice by saying he doesn’t want the attention to be on physical details, but rather the substance of their discussions from their own points of view.

“I don’t want to get into being diverted by, did they shake hands? How far did they — who talked the most and the rest,” Biden said in England on Sunday. “He can say what he said the meeting was about and I will say what I think the meeting was about. That’s how I’m going to handle it.”

Jun 16, 4:02 am
Biden to name nine ambassadors as his foreign trip comes to a close

As Biden’s first foreign trip as president prepares to come to a close, he’s announced a new slate of ambassadors to represent the United States — another instance of the Biden administration showcasing their desire to restore the U.S. presence on the world stage.

Biden’s nominees include Ken Salazar for ambassador to Mexico, C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III, for the rank of ambassador during his tenure of service as representative of the U.S. on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Thomas R. Nides for ambassador to Israel, Julianne Smith for the United States permanent representative to NATO, Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles for ambassador to Costa Rica, Julie Chung for ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sharon Cromer for U.S. ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia, Troy Damian Fitrell for ambassador to the Republic of Guinea and Marc Ostfield for ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay.

A source familiar with the nominations underscored the diversity among the nominees, following the pledge Biden made to have an administration that “looks like America,” and stressed that even the political picks bring relevant experience to the table for their respective roles.

Jun 16, 3:00 am
Why are Putin and Biden meeting?

Though the two leaders have met before, it will be Biden’s first face-to-face with the foreign “adversary” since being elected president.

During a phone call with Putin in April, Biden was the one to propose the meeting, tacked onto which will serve as a major test for the new president who is well acquainted with the Russian leader.

It comes at a time when both Biden and Putin agree that relations between Russia and the U.S. are at an all-time low. In recent weeks, ransomware attacks in the U.S. have been linked to Russian hackers, and outrage against the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has grown.

Ahead of the summit, the White House tailored its message to emphasize that the meeting was taking place because of differences with Russia, not in spite of them.

“This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other. It’s about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship are with Russia,” Biden said during a news conference Sunday.

“We’re not looking for conflict. We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together,” he continued.

Jun 16, 2:04 am
All eyes on Biden-Putin summit after ‘incredibly productive’ day at NATO

Wrapping up his first NATO summit since taking office, Biden said it was an “incredibly productive day” with American allies, which included individual meetings with roughly a dozen other leaders on the margins of the gathering. But the focus continues to be on his next major summit, when he comes face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

Biden said there was a consensus among his fellow heads of state at NATO, saying they were “glad” he was meeting with Putin early in his presidency.

“Every world leader here that’s a member of NATO that spoke today — and most of them mentioned it — thanked me for meeting with Putin now,” Biden said in a press conference on Monday from the NATO headquarters in Brussels. “Every single one that spoke, and I think there were probably about 10 or 12 that spoke to it, saying they were happy that I did that, that I was going to do that.”

The president has previously described Putin as a “killer,” who has no soul and is a “KGB thug.” Asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega Monday about what he has learned from his previous meeting with him in 2016 and what his mindset is like walking into a summit with Putin, Biden said he is “bright” and “tough.”

“I have found that he is a, as they say, when you used to play ball, a worthy adversary,” Biden said.

Biden was also asked how he could trust Putin coming out of their summit and the president said it wasn’t so much about trusting him, but rather “agreeing.”

“I’m hoping that — that President Putin concludes that there is some interest, in terms of his own interest, in changing the perception that the world has of him,” he said.

Jun 16, 12:56 am
Here’s what Biden’s expected to raise in his meeting with Putin

A senior White House official emphasized Tuesday that ransomware will be a “significant topic of conversation tomorrow,” as well as other cyber activity, and Biden has already said that if Navalny dies in custody, it would be a “tragedy” and “another indication that Russia has little or no intentions of abiding by basic, fundamental human rights.”

Though Putin refused to even call Navalny by name in a recent NBC News interview and has said his imprisonment shouldn’t be a concern for leaders outside of Russia, White House officials said for Biden, the issue of human rights is still important to him.

“Certainly human rights are not off the table, and individual high-profile cases are not off the table. But otherwise, I’m not going to preview what he’s going to say,” the official told reporters.

Arms control, the extension of the New START Treaty and America’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be on the agenda for the meeting, officials said Tuesday.

Jun 15, 11:06 pm
Majority of Americans trust Joe Biden to negotiate on US behalf with foreign counterparts: POLL

An ABC News/Ipsos poll found a majority of the American public has a great deal or good amount of trust in Biden to negotiate on the country’s behalf with other world leaders.

That level of trust — 52% — roughly tracks the president’s overall approval rating, which averages 53%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, and is about equal to the level of trust Americans have in Biden to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin specifically. Still, 3 in 10 Americans, including 70% of Republicans, say they do not trust Biden at all to negotiate with his foreign counterparts, and about 2 in 10 (18%) Americans say they trust the president just some.

A slightly larger majority (57%) say they have confidence in the president to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while about 4 in 10 (42%) do not have much or any confidence in Biden to do so, according to the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.

Compared to the level of trust and confidence in his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, at roughly the same point in his administration, Biden’s marks are noteworthy and even more so when factoring in the current level of partisan division in the United States.

Jun 15, 9:36 pm
David Whelan talks about his brother who is being held in Russian labor camp

Putin indicated on Friday that he’d be willing to talk about a potential “prisoner swap” between two U.S. Marine veterans, Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, for Russians being held in the U.S.

Russian officials have indicated they would like to trade Reed and Whelan for two Russians held in the U.S.: Viktor Bout — one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers and dubbed “the Merchant of Death” — and also Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot currently serving a lengthy jail sentence for a drug smuggling conviction.

David Whelan told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis on Tuesday that his brother, who is manufacturing clothes in a Russian labor camp, is a hostage and that it’s difficult to know when that might come to an end.

“I’m always hopeful that he’ll be released, but I don’t have any idea what the timeline might be,” David Whelan said. “The Biden administration has been very outspoken about Paul’s case and we’ve appreciated that as a family. It’s given us hope and it’s given him hope.”

“But he’s still a hostage and there’s no evidence yet that the Russians are willing to exchange in any exchange for him,” David Whelan continued. “They said last week — the Russian government did — that they would not consider Paul for exchange.”

Whelan’s family released an audio message from him on Monday recorded from the prison camp in central Russia where he is held. In it, he appealed to Biden to help free him.

“Please bring me home to my family and my dog Flora where I belong. Thank you, Mr. President, for your commitment to returning me home and bringing this deplorable hostage situation to an expedient conclusion,” Whelan said in the recording that his family said was made on May 30.

Jun 15, 8:10 pm

 

Relations between the 2 countries at an all-time low

 

Ahead of the summit, ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz said Biden needs to walk a fine line in an effort not to alienate Putin.

“He wants the relationship to be better — the U.S.-Russia relationship — to be better than it has been,” Raddatz said on ABC News Live Prime Tuesday. “And they both agree that it’s at one of the lowest points in history.”

“So, President Biden will have to give his grievances to Putin, telling him what he wants to do — and yet, we even heard a bit of that today, a little flattery, a little, you know, he is a ‘tough guy,’ he is a ‘bright guy,’ President Putin, and he is a ‘worthy adversary,"” Raddatz continued. “That is diplomacy 101.”

“He wants the relationship to be better, the U.S.-Russia relationship, to be better than it has been,” @MarthaRaddatz reports, ahead of Pres. Biden’s meeting with Pres. Putin. https://t.co/9yl3Xnqe2h pic.twitter.com/oJRmM1aHzJ

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) June 15, 2021

In a separate interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis, Masha Gessen, a staff writer at the New Yorker and author of “Surviving Autocracy,” agreed that “Russian-American relations are at an all time low.”

“Biden is faced with an incredibly difficult challenge,” Gessen added.

Watch the interview:

“Russian-American relations are at an all time low,” @mashagessen tells @LinseyDavis ahead of Pres. Biden’s meeting with Russian Pres. Putin.

“Biden is faced with an incredibly difficult challenge.” https://t.co/9yl3Xnqe2h pic.twitter.com/BPEpDw4O14

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) June 15, 2021

Jun 15, 7:31 pm
Biden’s ‘watch me’ comment raises stakes ahead of Putin summit: The Note

Amid all the high-level shadow boxing setting up President Joe Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden has added a new wrinkle — one that amounts to a test for himself that awaits him back home.

Biden has cast this moment in the world community in broad terms for the United States — a chance to assert the power of democratic nations in the face of challenges from China and Russia in particular. Asked Monday what he is telling allies who may be worried about any American slide toward autocracy, Biden again went big.

“What I’m saying to them is, watch me,” Biden said. “That’s why it’s so important that I succeed in my agenda.”

Biden was nonchalant in his condemnation of what he called the “phony populism” of former President Donald Trump. Speaking about Republicans, he flatly observed that “the Trump wing of the party is the bulk of the party, but it makes up a significant minority of the American people.”

Still, just hours earlier, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell served notice that his brand of hardball is still going to be played, with a warning about what Republican Senate control would mean for any Supreme Court vacancy under a Democratic presidency.

McConnell is objecting to congressional scrutiny of Trump-era Justice Department strategies, just like he did to the proposed Jan. 6 commission. And it’s still far from clear whether any infrastructure or climate-change legislation can pass with Republican support, to say nothing of the prospects for tax reform.

Asked about Putin’s laughing response to Biden’s assertion that he is a killer, Biden said his message back would be that he is laughing as well. The world now is watching — and will still be when Biden and Putin are both back home.

-ABC News Political Director Rick Klein

Jun 15, 6:40 pm
Biden thanks Swiss for holding US-Russia summit

Biden met with Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Foreign Minister Ignzio Cassis Tuesday and, according to a White House readout, Biden thanked the country for hosting the U.S. -Russia summit and “expressed appreciation for Switzerland’s unique historical role providing a neutral ground for diplomacy and negotiations.”

Biden and the leaders also talked about the strong relationships between the U.S. and Switzerland on many fronts. They also discussed Switzerland’s role as the U.S. protecting power in Iran for 40 years and their contributions to the global COVID response effort.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jun 15, 6:02 pm
Biden says he has the full support of NATO allies to meet with Putin

The high-stakes meeting between Biden and Putin comes on the heels of a summit with NATO leaders in Belgium’s capital, another first for Biden as U.S. president.

“What I’ll convey to President Putin is that I’m not looking for conflict with Russia but that we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said at a press conference in Brussels. “And we will not fail to defend the trans-Atlantic alliance or stand up for democratic values.”

Biden said not a single NATO leader expressed reservations about him meeting with Putin but rather have “thanked” him for doing it.

“I had discussions with them about — in the open — about what they thought was important from their perspective and what they thought was not important,” he said.

Jun 15, 5:14 pm
Here’s what we know about who will be inside the the summit meetings

Biden and Putin’s meeting is slated to begin on Wednesday around 7 a.m. ET and last four to five hours total, with multiple sessions.

The two leaders will first take part in a small session, joined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, before taking part in a larger working session.

The two leaders are also expected to host dueling, solo press conferences following the summit.

Biden said they weren’t holding a joint news conference, as Trump did with Putin, because he didn’t want the focus to be on talking time or body language. Doing it this way leaves Putin with less of an opportunity to embarrass the American president, as he’s historically tried to do.

“I think the best way to deal with this is for he and I to meet, he and I to have our discussion,” Biden said Sunday in England, on another leg of his first trip as president. “I don’t want to get into being diverted by, did they shake hands, who talked the most and the rest.”

Jun 15, 4:50 pm
How is Biden prepping for his meeting with Putin?

While he is no stranger to Putin, Biden has been intensely prepping for the meeting, receiving at least once-a-day briefings for weeks leading up to the summit.

“He’s been preparing for this like he prepares for every significant international engagement. He reviews the issues — written material; he cares about digging into the details. That very much matters to him,” a senior administration official said Tuesday.

The White House has also called on experts to help Biden prep for the meeting — including Fiona Hill, a top Russia expert and National Security and former Trump administration official who famously said she considered faking a medical emergency to end Trump’s press conference with Putin in 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.

Wednesday’s meeting is slated to last four to five hours total, with multiple sessions.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jun 15, 4:40 pm
Biden says he has the full support of NATO allies to meet with Putin

The high-stakes meeting between Biden and Putin comes on the heels of a summit with NATO leaders in Belgium’s capital, another first for Biden as U.S. president.

“What I’ll convey to President Putin is that I’m not looking for conflict with Russia but that we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said at a press conference in Brussels. “And we will not fail to defend the trans-Atlantic alliance or stand up for democratic values.”

Biden said not a single NATO leader expressed reservations about him meeting with Putin but rather have “thanked” him for doing it.

“I had discussions with them about — in the open — about what they thought was important from their perspective and what they thought was not important,” he said.

Jun 15, 4:12 pm

Biden says he’s ‘always ready’ ahead of Putin meeting

Biden arrived in Geneva earlier Tuesday less than 24 hours ahead of his meeting with Putin, scheduled for Wednesday around 7 a.m. ET and expected to last several hours.

Looking to project confidence ahead of the high-stakes summit, Biden didn’t miss a beat during a photo op Tuesday with Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

“Mr. President, are you ready for tomorrow?” a reporter asked.

“I’m always ready,” Biden replied.

The meeting with the Swiss president was Biden’s final public event for the day.

When the president arrived earlier in Geneva, he was met with a long line of greeters, many dressed in colorful outfits, as he stepped off Air Force One.

The White House said Biden will hold a solo press conference after meeting with Putin, where he will give his takeaways. Putin plans to do the same.

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