Washington, DC –Today, Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Representative Bill Keating, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber, released the following statement on the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva:

“Russia has become an increasingly autocratic state under President Putin’s two decades in power, and, as President Biden has said, Russia poses a threat to NATO and to our collective security. While we remain clear-eyed about who Putin is and what his objectives are, President Biden’s meeting today with President Putin reinforces the fact that America will respond to Russia’s antagonistic actions, while working to find common ground on our mutual interests and stabilize our relationship.

“We have seen Putin’s government shamelessly assassinate and try to assassinate political dissidents and opponents using chemical weapons at home and on foreign soil. We have seen him label his political opponents, civil society members, and even religious minorities as so-called extremists—banning their operations and locking them up without due process in harsh conditions. He has trampled on the Russian constitution, its elections and protections of civil liberties, and any concept of fair due process.  He consistently engages in aggression, cyber-attacks and malign influence campaigns seeking to undermine the democratic institutions of the United States and our allies.

“After four years of an administration that turned a blind eye to President Putin’s actions, and a President who even sided with Putin over our own intelligence community, we are glad to see President Biden standing firmly for our core democratic values. It is important for the United States to engage with Russia so we may improve cooperation on our mutual strategic interests - including nuclear non-proliferation and working to resolve conflicts - while holding it accountable for its human rights abuses, infringements on freedom of the press, attacks on democracies, its unjust detention of American citizens Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, and its persistent cyber-attacks. We welcome the announcement that Ambassadors will once again return and hope that Russia will see the value in improving our diplomatic relations and abiding by international norms.”