According to the deputy press secretary of the White House, a personal meeting between the two leaders is “the most effective way to understand Russian plans and intentions.”

The White House rejected criticism of the upcoming summit of US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, saying that nothing can replace “personal contacts of the leaders.”

“We do not consider, as you can imagine, a meeting with the President of Russia as a reward. We consider it an important part of protecting America’s interests,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on board the presidential plane, which flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Biden and Putin are scheduled to meet in Geneva on June 16.

They plan to discuss a wide range of issues, including arms control, international security, and human rights. In addition, the agenda is expected to include the situation in Belarus in connection with the forced landing of an Irish passenger plane, as well as the recent build-up of the Russian military presence on the border with Ukraine.

However, some critics in the United States believe that the summit is a gift for Russia and is likely to encourage it to take more aggressive actions.

Jean-Pierre did not agree with these statements.

“President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin because of the differences between our countries, not despite them,” she said. “President Biden is the most effective guide to American values and priorities, and a direct conversation with President Putin is the most effective way to understand Russia’s plans and intentions.”

“Nothing can replace personal contacts between leaders, especially in difficult relationships,” Jean – Pierre continued, ” so President Biden needs to sit down with President Putin, face to face, to clearly understand where we are, to clearly understand where he is, to try to settle differences and identify areas where we can make progress.”

Earlier, the White House said that in Geneva, the leaders of the two countries “will discuss the full range of topical issues” against the background of US efforts to “restore predictability and stability” of bilateral relations.

White House officials say they don’t expect any breakthroughs. They believe that Putin and Biden should start interacting on the few issues where there is room for cooperation, such as the fight against climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden also plans to devote considerable time to cybersecurity issues in the hope of limiting the growing wave of cyberattacks directed against the United States.

The White House said on Tuesday that the Brazilian company JBS informed the US government that it was attacked using a ransomware program that came from a criminal organization allegedly based in Russia.

Jean-Pierre said the United States had contacted the Russian government about the matter and that the FBI was investigating.

“The White House has offered to help JBS, and our team at the Department of Agriculture has spoken to their leadership several times over the past day,” Jean – Pierre said. “JBS notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization that is likely based in Russia. The White House is directly engaging with the Russian government on this issue and underscores that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” she added.