Biden – Putin summit: strengthened air policing and airspace restrictions

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Geneva this week for a summit that has required the mobilisation of thousands of people, including Russian, US and Swiss staff and journalists. Here’s all you need to know about the event.

On Tuesday at 4:15pm, the famous US Airforce One landed at Geneva Airport, the last stop of President Joe Biden’s overseas tour. He will be received by the President of the Council of State of Geneva, Serge Dal Busco and the city mayor Frédérique Perler, according to media outlets.

Before the long-awaited encounter with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the chief of the White House will also meet bilaterally with President Guy Permelin and head of foreign affairs Ignazio Cassis. Security is already tight around the Intercontinental Hotel, where the US president will be staying and meeting the Swiss delegation.

The US delegation, which also includes the US secretary of state Antony Blinken and security adviser Jake Sullivan, will be meeting their Swiss counterparts at 5:30pm. The discussions are set to focus on cooperation between the two countries in economy, research and education, according to the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.

Parmelin and Cassis will hold a press conference at 6:30pm at the International Conference Center Geneva, a few hundred meters from the Intercontinental Hotel.

The day of the summit. On Wednesday, the Russian president will arrive in Geneva to meet President Biden at Villa La Grange. Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told the Russian News Agency that the two leaders will have a private meeting followed by extended talks between the delegations. Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will be participating in the meeting, but Biden and Putin could also decide to have an additional one-on-one talk.

Regarding the duration of the talks, Ushakov said that it will depend “on how discussions will go and what the mood of the presidents will be like”. The Russian leader is expected to leave on the same day he arrives.

While there will be no joint press conference, each party is expected to organise separate briefings for the press.

Geneva under lockdown. On Tuesday, the eastern side of the lake was still swarming with carefree passersby enjoying the long-awaited summer temperatures. But by Wednesday, the area surrounding the Parc La Grange and Parc des Eaux-Vives, where Biden and Putin are due to meet, will be closed off to the public.

Bern, 11.06.2021 – At its meeting on 11 June 2021, the Federal Council approved a temporary restriction on the use of airspace during the summit between President Biden and President Putin from 15 to 17 June 2021 in Geneva. The Swiss Air Force will provide air policing and tighter airspace surveillance. The armed forces will also set up a support service to assist the civilian authorities in providing security on a subsidiary basis.

In order to ensure adequate security during the meeting in Geneva between the US president Joe Biden and the Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Federal Council has approved a temporary restriction on the use of airspace in the Geneva area from 15 to 17 June 2021. As this is a high-level international summit, such a measure is necessary to ensure security during the event. Switzerland is obliged to ensure the protection of persons who enjoy special protection under international law, such as the American and Russian heads of state. The Swiss Air Force will provide air policing and tightened airspace surveillance.

The use of airspace in the zone above the Place des Nations in Geneva will be restricted from Tuesday 15 June 2021 8am local time until Thursday 17 June 2021 5pm local time. Commercial flights to and from Geneva International Airport will not be affected by the restriction.

Role of the armed forces

At its meeting the Federal Council also approved the subsidiary deployment of a maximum of 1,000 military personnel in support of the Geneva cantonal authorities. In particular, the armed forces will be responsible for protecting foreign representations and will provide equipment to the Geneva cantonal police for air and lake transport. These measures complement the security measures put in place by the cantonal authorities. They do not involve any additional expenditure for the Confederation, as they are covered by the ordinary budget.

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