Moscow has warned against any exaggerated expectations from the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden, stressing that there is a lot of dispute between the two sides over a range of issues.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remarks on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.
"This is indeed a very important meeting. At the same time, it would be wrong to have inflated expectations", he said, adding that the two countries disagree on so many things that one cannot expect any progress in reaching an understanding.
"The potential for our disagreements and even some conflicting moments in our bilateral relations is so tremendous that one cannot expect any progress in reaching an understanding. However, sometimes agreeing that we do not agree is useful too," Peskov noted.
The Kremlin spokesman further hailed the beginning of a dialogue between the two presidents as “a positive step”, saying they will have an opportunity to discuss an entire range of issues and disagreements that are currently on the agenda.
"Each of them will raise those issues that he considers to be of paramount importance for his country. At any rate, even some kind of start for a top-level dialogue is a very positive step, despite the deplorable condition of bilateral relations," he said.
“You know that President Putin wants to improve the state of our relations”, Peskov continued,” But this is only possible with "mutual understanding and consideration for each other's interests.”
Putin and Biden are set to hold their first face-to-face meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva on June 16.
The Kremlin has already said that the two presidents would discuss bilateral ties, problems related to strategic nuclear stability and other issues including cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and regional conflicts.
On May 30, Biden said that he planned to raise the issue of human rights violations at the Geneva summit as well.
Biden proposed the meeting in April and said he would like to hold a summit with Putin during his trip to Europe in June, offering to meet in a third country to discuss rising tensions between the two countries.
The Russian foreign ministry said in May that Moscow has “significant differences” with Washington in how it views world affairs but is ready to discuss contentious issues with the US based on honesty and mutual respect.
Over the past six years, the US has imposed waves of sanctions against Russia, including over alleged meddling in its 2016 presidential election and the recent jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Relations between the two Cold War foes hit a new low in March after Biden said in an interview that he believed Putin was a “killer” and that the Russian president would have to “pay a price” for interference in the 2020 US presidential election.
More recently, tensions have escalated between the two sides over the Russian-speaking Donbass region of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces have been fighting since 2014.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.