President Obama has finally accepted an invitation to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will have their first formal tete-a-tete since 2013 at the United Nations headquarters in New York this Monday.
“Given the situations in Ukraine and Syria, despite our profound differences with Moscow, the president believes that it would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement with the Russians,” the official added.
Several areas of contention prevented Obama and Putin from meeting for several months. Namely, Russia's decision to give asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Russia's intervention in Ukraine, a luxury the government extended last year, according to Snowden's Russian advisor Anatoly Kucherena:
"Accordingly, from Aug. 1, 2014, Edward Snowden has received a residency permit in Russia for three years,” he added. Under the terms of the permit, Snowden can move around Russia and pay visits of up to three months to other countries, "depending how he plans his time," Kucherena told reporters in Moscow.
Considering the context, the meeting is likely to have some tension. Obama is expected to insist upon Russia's acknowledgment of the ceasefire in Ukraine, while the two also discuss Russia's military presence in Syria. The White House has high hopes:
Mr. Obama and his advisers are probing whether it is possible to forge an agreement with Mr. Putin to resolve the civil war, remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, and bring Moscow into the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State militants.
GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina would likely frown upon the meeting, stating at last week's Reagan Library debate that we've talked "way too much" to Putin and should focus solely on building up our military. As for the Russian leader, he himself claims that Americans spend too much time talking about him.