From hacking to Havana Syndrome: 5 top issues facing the U.S.-Russia relationship

From hacking to Havana Syndrome: 5 top issues facing the U.S.-Russia relationship. As U.S.-Russia relations have hit an agreed-upon low point, President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/–166610827/

The meeting in Geneva is the first time an American leader has met with Putin since 2018, when former President Donald Trump met with the autocrat in Helsinki. They are expected to discuss a number of issues, from the hacking of U.S. private businesses to how Russia is treating political opposition.

Although Biden has met with several world leaders, many have been strong U.S. allies. The president’s meeting with Putin will be among his first that could be contentious.

Biden said Monday that he spoke with his foreign counterparts about Russia’s aggressive acts that posed a threat to security, particularly on recent malicious cyberattacks. He said he would make clear where “the red lines are” in his upcoming meeting with Putin.

“I’m not looking for conflict with Russia, but we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said.

Here are the top issues facing U.S.-Russia relationship:
A shared dislike of one another

Biden has shared an unfavorable view of Putin, who has been critical of Biden.

In March, Biden during an interview on ABC News agreed with a description that Putin is a “killer.” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Biden: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?”

“I do,” Biden responded.

More:Biden: Russia and China seeking to ‘drive a wedge’ in NATO solidarity

He also pledged to make Russia — and Putin — pay for alleged interference into the 2020 presidential election. Following Biden’s ABC News interview, Putin responded to Biden’s comments on Russian TV by saying: “he who said it, did it,” according to Reuters.

He also pledged to make Russia — and Putin — pay for alleged interference into the 2020 presidential election. Following Biden’s ABC News interview, Putin responded to Biden’s comments on Russian TV by saying: “he who said it, did it,” according to Reuters.

Earlier this year, a declassified U.S. intelligence report showed that Russia and its proxies conducted an operation aimed at “denigrating” Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, which the intelligence community concluded that Putin authorized.

Putin during an interview with NBC News that was aired in full Monday called Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, an “extraordinary” and “talented” individual. The Russian president went on to say that Biden is “radically different from Trump.”

“President Biden is a career man,” Putin said. “He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”
Cyberattacks on infrastructure

Notable cyberattacks with alleged Russian ties are expected to come up.

In May, Biden expelled Russian diplomats and announced sanctions on Russia with regard to the 2020 hacking of SolarWinds, which targeted multiple U.S. federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, State and Energy.

More:Biden sees ‘potential’ progress in Putin’s openness to extraditing cyber criminals

U.S. intelligence agencies believe the SolarWinds hack is the work of SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Hackers went undetected for nine months as they targeted U.S. government departments, about 100 private companies and several organizations in the United Kingdom. Roughly 18,000 customers had installed malicious software from the attack.

DarkSide, a cybercrime network believed to be based in Russia is the main culprit behind a ransomware attack that shutdown Colonial Pipeline in early May.
Silenced political opposition

Biden has been critical of Putin’s crackdown on Russia’s political opposition.

In February, Alexei Navalny, an activist and one of Putin’s fiercest critics, was imprisoned in Russia for breaking parole conditions. Navalny was returning from Germany in January, where he was receiving treatment for poisoning with a nerve agent.

Putin in a recent interview with NBC News could not guarantee that Navalny would leave prison alive and denied ordering an assassination attempt on the anti-corruption crusader.

“Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president,” Putin said when asked if he could guarantee Navanly would leave prison alive.

More:Joe Biden to hold solo news conference after meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva
Belarus and Ukraine

Putin has pledged financial and military support to Belarus, even as President Alexander Lukashenko faces international outrage for human rights transgressions.

Lukashenko has used violence to suppress largely peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations and is suspected of ordering the diversion of a commercial airline flight to facilitate the arrest of Raman Pratasevich, a dissident-journalist. Lukashenko has faced sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union.

In addition, Biden and Putin will likely discuss Russia’s ongoing territorial aggressions with Ukraine.

Last week during a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden affirmed the United States’ “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression in Donbas and Crimea,” according to a readout of the call.

Vice President Kamala Harris invites all 24 female US senators for dinner at her home. Vice President Kamala Harris is hosting a first-of-its-kind dinner at her Washington D.C. residence on Tuesday, one where all her female colleagues in the U.S. Senate have been invited.

All 24 of the country’s female senators were invited — 16 Democrats and eight Republicans. The bipartisan dinner will be hosted in the vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, marking the first time Harris has hosted lawmakers since moving into her home in April.

Each senator invited must present a negative COVID-19 test to attend.

Before the 2016 and 2020 elections, regular, bipartisan dinners were common among senators in Washington, according to POLITICO, which first reported about the dinner invitation.

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GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, exiting an evening infrastructure meeting on Monday, each said they planned to attend the dinner, according to ABC News.

It is unclear whether Harris will cook herself or have a chef prepare the meal, although Harris has stated she’s an avid cook in the past. On her campaign trail, Harris said her cooking specialties include lentils, tuna melts and roasted chicken

Murkowski and Collins both guessed they might be served tuna melts, one of Harris’ specialties.

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