Blinken Says Biden-Putin Meeting Isn’t ‘Light-Switch’ Moment

President Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin won’t be a “light-switch moment” but the start of a longer process aimed at establishing a more stable relationship, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Biden believes there are areas where the U.S. and Russia can co-operate, Blinken said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” one of four scheduled talk-show appearances on Sunday.

But the U.S. president will have to respond if Putin continues malign activity such as the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, cyber attacks, and turning a blind eye to groups that deploy ransomware against U.S. companies, Blinken said.

“This is not a light switch moment,” Blinken said of Biden’s meeting with Putin in Geneva, set for Wednesday. He added that Biden would tell Putin “we seek a more predictable, stable relationship and if we’re able to see that there are areas where it’s in our mutual interest to co-operate.”

“This is the beginning of testing that proposition, and Russia will decide by his actions which direction it wants to go in,” Blinken said from Brussels. “We’ll see that play out in the months ahead.”

Blinken said no responsible country should harbor criminals engaged in cyber-attacks, and that he expects Biden will raise the issue with Putin. ”That’s very much on the agenda,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Republican Critique

Biden was wrapping up a Group of Seven summit in England on Sunday before joining Blinken in Brussels for a meeting with other members of the NATO alliance. Biden said at a news conference on Sunday he agrees with Putin’s assessment that U.S.-Russian relations are “at a low point.”

Representative Michael McCaul, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Biden administration has weakened its position toward Putin by “giving him a lot of stuff.”

That includes the administration’s decision to refrain from sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline to Germany, as well as not cracking down on Russia after the SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline hacks, McCaul said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The price for admission, the ticket for this seat, was way too high,” the Texas Republican said. “It is time to start hitting back.”

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