Russia expects no ‘breakthrough’ at Putin-Biden summit, says Foreign Minister Lavrov

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Russia is not expecting any major breakthrough when President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Joe Biden hold their first summit this month, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“We are not under any illusions and we are not trying to create the impression that there will be any breakthrough, any historic fateful decisions,” Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow ahead of the June 16 talks in Geneva.

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“But the very fact of top-level talks between the two leading nuclear powers is of course important,” he said, after an online meeting of officials from the BRICS alliance of major emerging countries.

The face-to-face meeting between the two leaders comes amid soaring tensions between the countries, which have both downplayed expectations of any significant results.

Since taking office, Biden has imposed new sanctions against Moscow over what US authorities say was the Russian role in the massive SolarWinds cyber attack and meddling in the 2020 presidential election.

Washington has also harshly criticized Moscow for the near-death poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Biden on Sunday pledged to raise sensitive issues in the talks, saying he would make clear to Putin that “we will not stand by and let him abuse” human rights.

Tensions are also high over Ukraine, where Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and recently massed troops on the border, and over Moscow’s ally Belarus which provoked an outcry by diverting a European plane to arrest a dissident onboard.

Lavrov urged the West to tone down its rhetoric if it hopes to have a fruitful relationship with Russia.

“We are called an adversary, a pernicious country that spreads malign influence all the around world, is this a friendly attitude?” he said.

He accused NATO of carrying out significant military exercises in proximity to Russia and refusing to discuss de-escalation, saying he expected “nothing new” from any discussion about Ukraine.

Read more: Russia threatens to send array of ‘unpleasant’ signals to US ahead of summit

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