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The Latest: Putin says Navalny deserved prison sentence

GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin says opposition leader Alexei Navalny got what he deserved when he was handed a prison sentence.
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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin says opposition leader Alexei Navalny got what he deserved when he was handed a prison sentence.

Navalny, Putin’s most ardent political foe, was arrested in January upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin — an accusation that Russian officials reject. In February, Navalny was given a 2 1/2-year prison term for violating the terms of a suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he dismissed as politically motivated.

Speaking Wednesday after a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva, Putin said Navalny received his due punishment for violating the terms of his probation, adding that he was aware that he was facing a prison sentence when he returned to Russia.

“He deliberately moved to be arrested,” Putin said, sticking to his habit of not mentioning Navalny by name.

Last week, a Moscow court outlawed the organizations founded by Navalny by labeling them extremist, the latest move in a campaign to silence dissent and bar Kremlin critics from running for parliament in September.

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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin says an agreement has been reached to conduct U.S.-Russian negotiations on limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Speaking after a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva, Putin said they agreed that the U.S. State Department and the Russian Foreign Ministry would work out details for the talks.

Russia has long called for the start of strategic stability talks to potentially replace the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026.

Washington broke off talks with Moscow in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Talks resumed in 2017 but gained little traction and failed to produce an agreement on extending the New START treaty during the Trump administration.

Shortly after Biden took office in January, the two sides agreed to a five-year extension of the pact just days before it was due to expire.

Moscow has said it’s ready to include its prospective doomsday weapons — such as the Poseidon atomic-powered, nuclear-armed underwater drone and the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile — in the talks on condition the U.S. brings its missile defense and possible space-based weapons into the equation.

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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the tone of the talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday as “constructive” and said there was no hostility during the talks.

His remarks came at a news conference after he and Biden met in Geneva for a high-stakes summit amid tensions between the West and the Kremlin.

“Our assessment of many issues differ, but in my view both sides demonstrated the desire to understand each other and looks for ways to get closer,” Putin said.

“The conversation was rather constructive,” he added.

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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and U.S. President Joe Biden have agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in a bid to lower tensions.

Putin made the announcement at a news conference following a summit on Wednesday with Biden in Geneva.

The return of ambassadors follows a diplomatic tug-of-war that saw deep cuts in diplomatic personnel.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden described Putin as a killer.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.

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GENEVA — President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have concluded their meetings in Geneva, the White House said.

The pair met for nearly four hours on Wednesday, first in a smaller session and later in a larger meeting that was expanded to include more officials from both sides and which lasted about 65 minutes.

Putin and then Biden are scheduled to hold press conferences before departing the summit site.

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GENEVA -- Several posters dedicated to the imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in Geneva on Wednesday, the day of the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Navalny, Putin’s most vocal critic, was arrested in January upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin — an accusation that Russian officials reject.

Biden has condemned Navalny’s poisoning and subsequent arrest, and was expected to raise the issue on Wednesday.

The posters, which were written in both English and French and were taken down on Wednesday evening, read: “Navalny poisoned with Novichok. And still no investigation? How come, President Putin?”

On Tuesday, a few dozen supporters of Navalny protested in Geneva, hoping to send a message to Putin.

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HELSINKI — NATO member Estonia says two Russian fighter jets violated its airspace this week, in what it claimed was the fourth such incident this year.

Two Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighters entered Estonia’s airspace in the vicinity of Hiiumaa, a Baltic Sea island belonging to Estonia, without permission and spent there less than one minute Tuesday morning, Estonia’s military said in a statement.

It added that the transponders on the Russian planes weren’t switched on, they hadn’t filed a flight plan and there was no two-way radio communication with the Estonian air traffic service.

The Russian Embassy charge d’affaires was summoned to the Estonian Foreign Ministry and handed over a note on the incident on Wednesday.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat is warning that the bloc’s testy relations with Russia will probably get worse and that EU member countries must not let Moscow divide them.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said ties with Russia are “at the lowest level” and the likelihood they will improve soon remains “a distant prospect.”

His remarks came Wednesday as President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin were meeting in Geneva for a high-stakes summit amid tensions between the West and the Kremlin.

Borrell's comments were made as he unveiled his recommendations Wednesday for new strategy toward Russia.

EU leaders will debate it at their next summit on June 24-25. But EU member countries are deeply divided over the best approach to take with Moscow. Russia is the EU’s biggest natural gas supplier and plays a pivotal role in a series of international conflicts and issues.

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GENEVA -- A former U.S. ambassador to Russia says he “can guess” why U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not have a joint news conference after their summit in Geneva on Wednesday.

Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. Ambassador in Moscow between 2012 and 2014, recalled that the last joint press conference between Putin and a U.S. president — Donald Trump — in Helsinki in 2018 “was terrible for American national interests.”

The Helsinki news conference was considered a “win” for the Russian side after Trump appeared to side with Putin over his own security agencies on allegations of Russian election interference.

This year, the White House opted against a joint news conference after the summit between Putin and Biden, deciding it did not want to appear to elevate Putin at a time when the U.S. president is urging European allies to pressure Putin to cut out myriad provocations.

After the talks, Putin and Biden are scheduled to hold their own separate news conferences, one after another.

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GENEVA — The Swiss government is going to reimburse scores of Geneva businesses that have been forced to close because of security measures linked to the Russia-U.S. summit on Wednesday.

Geneva officials adopted a decree Wednesday to compensate the owners of shops that ended up inside the security perimeter set up around the meeting of Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Laurent Paoliello, a spokesman for the regional security department, said the funds would come from the federal government, but cautioned that it wouldn’t be a “blank check.”

He said the payments would be doled out after a thorough analysis over the coming weeks of revenue shortfalls by what he said could amount to about 100 enterprises.

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GENEVA — Peace activists unfurled a huge banner in Lake Geneva on Wednesday calling on the Russian and U.S. presidents to slash their nuclear arsenals.

Campaigners in a sailboat spread the banner, reading “Peace and Security Through Disarmament,” in the water so that it could be seen from the sky soon before Russian President Vladimir Putin landed at the Geneva airport for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden.

It was an initiative by Swiss anti-nuclear group Campax, which is urging the leaders to not only get rid of existing warheads but also stop investing in developing new ones, arguing that would set an example for other nuclear powers.

The action was among multiple mini-protests around Wednesday’s summit, their first since Biden took office.

The leaders are expected to talk about arms control. Anti-nuclear groups say the U.S. and Russia account for nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals.

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GENEVA -- President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have finished the first round of their summit talks Wednesday and are proceeding to the first of two larger meetings in Geneva.

Biden and Putin first met accompanied by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a pair of translators.

Two additional sessions are planned Wednesday afternoon with the leaders to be joined by additional aides and translators.

On the U.S. side, the larger meetings are set to include Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan and National Security Council Russia experts Eric Green and Stergos Kaloudis.

The Russian delegation is to include Lavrov, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, Lavrov’s deputy Sergei Ryabkov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, as well as Kremlin envoys on Ukraine and Syria and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Overall, the summit is projected to last four to five hours before each leader holds a press conference.

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GENEVA — President Joe Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin began with minutes of unusually fierce shoving and shouting among U.S. and Russian journalists and security forces.

Organizers at Wednesday’s summit in Geneva opened the meeting room to journalists for what’s normally a few minutes of news media filming and shouting questions before talks start.

On Wednesday, however, Russian and U.S. security forces and officials initially blocked journalists as they tried to enter the room.

The scene then devolved into minutes of chaos inside the meeting room.

American journalists described Russian security and news media grabbing them by the arms and clothes to try to hold them back. U.S. journalists tried to shoulder their way in, and a U.S. reporter was knocked to the ground.

Before the scene calmed, some in the crowd shouted they were being crushed in the melee.

Biden and Putin initially sat awkwardly in front of the press, but then watched and at times laughed at the tumult.

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WASHINGTON — The White House says that President Joe Biden was not suggesting to reporters that he trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin with his reaction to a reporter's question in Geneva.

At the start of a high-stakes summit in Geneva, Biden appeared to suggest that he can take the Russian leader at his word, nodding his head during a photo opportunity when asked by a reporter if Putin can be trusted.

Communications director Kate Bedingfield said later there was a “chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other” in that moment.

She argued that Biden “was very clearly not responding to any one question” when a journalist asked if he trusted Putin.

Journalists and security officials were shoving to get into the small room where Biden and Putin are meeting.

Bedingfield said Biden was “nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally.”

She noted that Biden on Monday told reporters that his approach with Putin would be to “verify, then trust.”

Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki later said that the president “wasn’t responding to any question or anything other than the chaos.”

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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked President Joe Biden and expressed wishes for a “productive” meeting as the two kicked off their meeting in Geneva Wednesday.

Putin told Biden upon first meeting him he was thankful for the gathering as he knew the U.S. president “had a long trip and lots of work.” But the Russian president emphasized that there are “lots of questions accumulated in Russia-U.S. relations that require discussion on the highest level.”

The two are expected to address everything from cybercrime to Russia’s alleged interference in U.S. elections during their meeting.

Biden, who has spoken to Putin over the phone, told the Russian leader that “it is always better to meet face to face.”

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GENEVA — Swiss President Guy Parmelin welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden for the start of their summit under blue skies, wishing them a “fruitful dialogue” in Geneva -- which he touted as a “city of peace.”

It was a moment in the sun for Switzerland both literally and figuratively.

Parmelin, whom Swiss media have poked fun at for his allegedly poor English, spoke in French -- his native language and one historically associated with fine diplomacy. He used the opportunity to promote Switzerland’s image for neutrality and as a hub of international diplomacy.

“Switzerland is very honored to welcome you for this summit, and it is delighted -- in line with its tradition of good offices -- to support dialogue and mutual understanding,” said Parmelin, flanked by Putin and Biden on the steps of Villa La Grange, the 18th century manor house overlooking Lake Geneva that hosted the landmark U.S.-Russia summit on Wednesday.

“I wish you both, Mr. Presidents, a fruitful dialogue in the interest of your two countries and the world,” he said.

He then quipped “Best wishes, and goodbye” in both English and Russian.

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GENEVA — President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are starting their diplomatic talks in Geneva.

The two were first greeted by the Swiss president before sitting down for a small meeting that includes just Biden, Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with a translator for each side. They’ll then move to larger talks, which will include more senior aides and are expected to last hours.

The two plan to discuss everything from cybercrime to Russia’s alleged interference in America’s elections, as well as arms control and Russia’s intrusion in Ukraine.

Both sides have played down expectations for any major breakthroughs, but both Biden and Putin have stressed the need to restore more stable relations between the two nations.

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GENEVA -- President Joe Biden has arrived at the 18th-century manor house in Geneva where he’ll hold high-profile talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden is set to meet in person with the Russian president for the first time in a decade. He last met Putin when the Russian leader was prime minister and Biden was serving as vice president, in March of 2011. He has since called Putin both a “killer” and a “worthy adversary.”

The two are likely to discuss some issues that also were central to their 2011 meeting, like trade and arms control. But this meeting comes at a low point in diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Biden says he hopes to find areas of “cooperation” with Putin, but he’s also expected to confront the Russian president on cybercrime, Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and other issues that have contributed to frosty relations between the two countries.

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GENEVA — Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is frequently late at high-level meetings, arrived on time at the 18th century Villa La Grange in Geneva for his high-stakes summit with President Joe Biden.

The Russian leader landed in Geneva and traveled to the summit venue, located in the Swiss city's largest park, in a Russian-made Aurus limousine that was airlifted from Moscow for the summit along with a fleet of other vehicles.

Putin, 68, who has received a Russian-made vaccine against the coronavirus, wasn’t wearing a mask. However members of his delegation were wearing masks.

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GENEVA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at a lakeside villa in Geneva for his summit with U.S. President Joe Biden.

The two leaders are set to start their meeting accompanied by their top diplomats and a pair of translators. Other senior officials plan to join them for two successive rounds of talks that are expected to last for several hours Wednesday.

Topics on the summit agenda include strategic stability, cyber security, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and the Arctic. Putin and Biden also are expected to cover regional crises in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, as well as the Iranian nuclear program and Afghanistan.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, sought to moderate expectations for the summit but strongly emphasized the meeting’s importance amid the strained ties between Moscow and Washington.

“It’s the first such meeting that takes place at a time when the bilateral relations are extremely bad,” Ushakov told reporters this week. “Both parties realize it’s time to start dealing with the issues that have piled up.”

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GENEVA – Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in the Swiss city of Geneva for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Their meeting comes amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions. The summit agenda covers a broad range of issues, from arms control and cybercrime to the pandemic and a diplomatic tug-of-war between Moscow and Washington.

The White House and the Kremlin have sought to downplay expectations for Wednesday’s summit. But Biden and Putin have both emphasized the importance of a direct dialogue to try to negotiate a more stable and predictable relationship despite the sharp policy differences between the United States and Russia.

Ties between the two powers have remained at post-Cold War lows over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, accusations of Russian interference in elections, hacking attacks and other irritants.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet for four or five hours at a lakeside mansion.

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GENEVA — The acting chief of protocol for the Geneva region says staff members at the villa where U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting will keep face masks on during the summit even if the two leaders don't.

Geneva authorities require the wearing of masks in public, though there are exceptions. The requirement holds particularly in places with a lot of pedestrian traffic, such as shopping areas.

Marion Bordier Bueschi, who is managing the grand lakeside mansion that will serve as the summit site, told The Associated Press that staffers inside Villa La Grange were already wearing masks.

She said Putin and Biden would likely not wear masks during their talks on Wednesday. She noted that both leaders have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 have dropped across Switzerland, and authorities are planning steps to ease the mask requirement later this month.

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GENEVA — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both coming to the summit table in Geneva with their own agendas and non-negotiable red lines. There will be no talk of a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations.

Biden and his aides have made clear that he will not follow in the footsteps of his recent predecessors by aiming to radically alter the United States’ ties to Russia. Instead, the White House is looking to move toward a more predictable relationship and attempt to rein in Russia’s disruptive behavior.

Biden will push Putin on Wednesday to stop meddling in democratic elections, to ease tensions with Ukraine and to stop giving safe harbor to hackers carrying out cyber and ransomware attacks. Aides believe that lowering the temperature with Russia will also reinforce the United States’ ties to democracies existing in Moscow’s shadow.

Putin also won’t be expecting a new détente to mend the rift caused by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Nor does he count on a rollback of the crippling U.S. and EU sanctions that have restricted Moscow’s access to global financial markets and top Western technologies.

Putin’s task now is more modest — to spell out Russia’s top security concerns and try to restore basic channels of communication that would prevent an even more dangerous destabilization. The main red line for Moscow is Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO.

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GENEVA — A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned that Putin's talks with U.S. President Joe Biden “will not be easy” or likely yield any breakthroughs.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Associated Press a few hours before the Russia-U.S. summit in Geneva on Wednesday that the topics on the broad agenda “are mostly problematic."

"We have many long-neglected questions that need to be trawled through. That’s why President Putin is arriving with an attitude to frankly and constructively set questions and try to find solutions,” Peskov said.

“No, this day cannot become historic, and we shouldn’t expect any breakthroughs. The situation is too difficult in Russian-American relations," he continued. "However, the fact that the two presidents agreed to meet and finally start to speak openly about the problems is already an achievement. We can say that without having started yet, the summit already has a positive result, but we should not await breakthroughs.”

Peskov said the bilateral issues Russia wants to discuss include strategic stability, arms control, cooperation in regional conflicts, cooperation on the pandemic, and climate change.

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GENEVA — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are set to meet for their highly anticipated summit in the Swiss city of Geneva. It’s a moment of high-stakes diplomacy that comes as both leaders agree that U.S.-Russian relations are at an all-time low.

For four months, the two leaders have traded sharp rhetoric. Biden has repeatedly called out Putin for malicious cyberattacks by Russian-based hackers on U.S. interests, for disregard of democracy in the jailing of Russia’s top opposition leader and for interfering in American elections.

Their talks on Wednesday are expected to last four to five hours. In advance, both sides set out to lower expectations. Arrangements for the meeting have been carefully choreographed and vigorously negotiated by both sides.

Putin and his entourage will arrive first at the summit site: Villa La Grange, a grand lakeside mansion set in Geneva’s biggest park. Next come Biden and his team. Swiss President Guy Parmelin will greet the two leaders.

Biden and Putin first will hold a relatively intimate meeting joined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The talks will then expand to include five senior aides on each side.

After the meeting concludes, Putin is scheduled to hold a solo news conference, with Biden following suit. The White House opted against a joint news conference, deciding it did not want to appear to elevate Putin at a time when the president is urging European allies to pressure Putin to cut out myriad provocations.

The Associated Press



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