President Biden will meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Geneva on June 16, the White House said Tuesday, the first face-to-face session between the two leaders at a time of extraordinary tension over Ukraine, cyberattacks and a raft of new nuclear weapons Mr. Putin is deploying.
The meeting is expected to focus heavily on preventing nuclear escalation. Geneva was also the site of the 1985 summit between Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, and Ronald Reagan, also focused on the nuclear arms race.
But Mr. Biden is also expected to use the summit to raise the issues he talked about with Mr. Putin on the telephone recently, just before the United States announced a new series of financial sanctions against Russian officials and financial institutions.
Those include the prosecution and jailing of Aleksei A. Navalny, the opposition leader that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services attempted to kill with a nerve agent. And Mr. Biden plans to focus on the rising tide of cyberattacks directed at the United States, starting with SolarWinds, a sophisticated entry into network management software used by most of the United States’ largest companies and by a range of government agencies and defense contractors.
Two weeks ago Mr. Biden said he would raise with Mr. Putin the more recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which shut down nearly half the supply of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast. That attack arose from a criminal group, but Mr. Biden accused Russia of harboring the ransomware criminals.
For Mr. Biden, the encounter will come after two successive meetings with allies, first the Group of 7 allies — a group the Russians had been part of for several years when integration with the West seemed possible — and NATO allies. Mr. Biden will then travel from Brussels, where NATO is headquartered, to Geneva, where his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met his Russian counterpart last weekend to plan the meeting of the two global adversaries.
For all the tensions, Mr. Biden has repeatedly said that the United States and Russia must find a way to have a “stable, predictable” relationship.
Russia, despite continued saber-rattling directed at the West, has signaled optimism about the upcoming talks. For Mr. Putin, a high-profile presidential summit can help deliver what he has long sought: respect for Russia on the world stage. And he is sure to repeat his message that the United States must respect Russian interests — especially inside Russia, where the Kremlin claims Washington is trying to undermine Mr. Putin’s rule, and in Eastern Europe.
Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said Tuesday that Mr. Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had taken a “frank” and “respectful” tone in their recent talks with their Russian counterparts. While Mr. Biden has taken a more critical tone toward Russia than did President Donald J. Trump, some analysts say that the Kremlin also sees benefits in being able to negotiate with a more predictable administration in Washington.
“We can expect — if efforts are made by both sides — that certain irritants will be removed,” Mr. Lavrov told reporters Tuesday. “This won’t be fast and it won’t be easy.”
Mr. Gorbachev — the Soviet leader, now 90, whose 1985 summit with Mr. Reagan in Geneva helped defuse Cold War tensions — said on Tuesday that he was happy to hear Mr. Putin would meet Mr. Biden, whom he cast as a more reliable counterpart than Mr. Trump.
“There’s a new president in the White House now, and you can negotiate with him,” Mr. Gorbachev said, according to the Interfax news agency. “The prior team turned out to be unreliable.”