US President Joe Biden says he has “no intention” of meeting with Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G20 summit in Bali to talk about Ukraine, unless the Russian leader approached him first to discuss issues like the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner who is currently imprisoned in Russia.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday, Biden discussed the various issues plaguing Russian-US relations and condemned Putin’s alleged threat to use nuclear weapons in the military conflict with Ukraine.
When asked if he was willing to meet with the Russian leader at the G20 summit in November, Biden said: “Look, I have no intention of meeting with him. But for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend.”
Brittney Griner is a Women’s National Basketball Association star and Olympic gold medalist who was detained at a Moscow airport in February for possessing vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil. Griner pleaded guilty to the charges of drug possession and was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court on August 4.
Biden went on to state that neither he, “nor is anyone else” prepared to negotiate with Russia about anything related to Ukraine and so a meeting between the two leaders would depend on “specifically what [Putin] wanted to talk about.”
“He’s acted brutally. I think he’s committed war crimes. And so, I don’t see any rationale to meet with him now,” the US leader said.
Biden and Putin have not spoken to each other directly since before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier said that the Kremlin would consider such a meeting, but has yet to receive a proposal from Washington.