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Biden And Putin Begin High-Stakes Meeting In Geneva Soon; China Sends 28 Warplanes Into Taiwan's Defense I.D. Zone; IDF Strikes Gaza Over Incendiary Balloons; Biden and Putin's Anticipated Meeting Just Hours Away; 50 Million under Heat Alert in Western U.S. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired June 16, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to this special coverage of the meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. I'm an Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I am Fred Pleitgen in Geneva in Switzerland where we are just hours away from that very high stakes meeting. And the U.S. and Russia summit appears to be tightly scripted with little chance of any bombshells or fireworks. It certainly appears to be zero chance of the U.S. President letting Russia off the hook, especially on contentious issues as Joe Biden's predecessor famously did just three years ago.

COREN: Well, President Biden has just wrapped up days of meetings with NATO, the E.U. and the G7. And they're part of a clear effort for him to arrive at the Russia summit galvanized by public displays of unity and the backing of Western powers. CNN's Phil Mattingly picks up the story.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've said, both publicly and privately, that America is back, and this is why we're here in full force.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden capping off a week designed to reinvigorate America's closest alliances, delivering a resolute message.

BIDEN: Europe is our natural partner and the reason is we're committed to the same democratic norms and institutions, and are --and they are increasingly under attack.

MATTINGLY: A message repeated directly nearly two dozen conversations with key U.S. allies in the G7, NATO and today, the E.U. One carefully calibrated to be carried into the highest stakes moment of his first foreign trip is sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. BIDEN: That's how I'll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time. Deliver for the needs and the needs of our people.

MATTINGLY: Biden arriving in Geneva for that sit down with relations between the U.S. and Russia at their lowest point since the Cold War. The two leaders set to participate in at least two meetings. A smaller sit down with Biden, Putin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov participating. Followed by an expanded discussion with five member delegations.

The two leaders will not share a meal official say and the talks are expected to last roughly four to five hours. A day will close with individual press conferences by each leader and intentional decision by U.S. officials in an effort not to elevate the Russian leader. U.S. agenda is lengthy and it will be delivered with clear intent official say, from firm warnings on cyberattacks, the imprisonment of opposition leaders in aggression in Ukraine to areas of potential cooperation like Afghanistan, arms control and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

BIDEN: I'm going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can't cooperate if he chooses. And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond.

MATTINGLY: But even those areas of potential cooperation will come with significant skepticism from the U.S. side.

BIDEN: I'd verify first and then trust.

MATTINGLY: Even as Biden signals a grudging respect for what Putin, a leader who has confounded U.S. officials for decades, will bring to the room.

BIDEN: He's bright, he's tough. And I have found that he is a worthy adversary.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And it's worth noting that even though the two teams, U.S. officials, Russian officials have been in intense negotiations over the course of several weeks about how this sit down would actually be structured. Two senior administration officials say both sides agreed to kind of include some flexibility in terms of how the schedule will play out. Now, what does that actually mean?

It could mean the two leaders may consider having a one on one meeting at some point. It doesn't mean it necessarily will. But the administration officials making clear they want the two leaders to gauge how the entire process will and should go based on the substance of their conversations. Based on progress or lack thereof that is occurring at the time. It's just something to keep in mind.

To some degree they understand that yes, there are two meetings set on the books. Yes, they think it'll be four to five hours. But once the two leaders get in the room, if things are going well, if they believe there's an opportunity to delve deeper into a particular subject area, there's a very real possibility things may move in a different direction. It is in fact, real time diplomacy at work. Phil Mattingly, CNN, Geneva.



PLEITGEN: And Phil's absolutely right. Of course it is indeed real time diplomacy at work there is. There are many topics that are on the table. There's a lot to talk about. I want to bring in regular here on CNN, Carl Bildt, who is, of course, the former prime minister of Sweden, and he joins me now live from Bratislava in Slovakia. Good morning to you, sir. And thank you very much for joining us.

How do you think the feeling about this summit is? I know that President Biden has said that all the European leaders that he talked about, all the NATO leaders that he talked to were firmly on board with him doing this summit at this time in this presidency. But are there some misgivings or is there some unease especially in Central and Eastern Europe, about the summit occurring at this time?

CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: There could be, but I think they are very limited. There's a lot of confidence in President Biden. I mean, he knows the issues, he knows Ukraine, he's now been talking to all of the European leaders, he will be -- he will be having with them on roughly what he wants to bring up with President Putin. The why -- that might have been some misgiving in the beginning.

And there's also some sort of remnants from the previous administration and what happens there. I think most Europeans are fairly confident with the stokes. No high expectations. But on the balance, a good thing to do.

PLEITGEN: Of course, as you mentioned, there are indeed no high expectations. But I think one of the things that we've -- the talk that we've heard both Moscow -- both from Moscow, and also from Washington as well, is that they want to bring more predictability and stability into the relations. How important do you think that is, especially for the U.S. is European allies to have more of that predictability and stability?

And do they believe that that's something that could actually rein Russia in? Because of course, there has been a lot of issues between Russia and especially the European countries, as far as the cyber sphere is concerned? And also, of course, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe as well.

BILDT: Absolutely. That quite a number of issues where there hasn't really been stability in Russian policies and there has been predictability. I think it's very important that they take up and I think they do that the strategic organizations, they are technically complicated, they will need time. But I think it's important that they get talks starting. On Ukraine and President Biden knows Ukraine. So he knows the issues.

I think it's very important to get a very strong message over to the Russians that what they have been doing and that what they continue to do is unacceptable. And they will at some point in time, have to sit down at the negotiating table and really respect the serenity, independence of Ukraine. Russian policy has been unpredictable. I mean, we saw the arms buildup and we see the ramping up propaganda, and we see different things.

A very clear message there which has not been forthcoming from Washington for some years, will be very necessary. Then you have the entire cyber area that you mentioned. And then you have other international conflicts. So, to search for stability in the relationship is good but not stability at any price. It should be stability based on respect for what is really needed from the Russian side.

PLEITGEN: So, you said that Russia's move had been unpredictable in Ukraine. But one of the things that has been quite predictable about Russia's moves in Ukraine is that the Russians certainly show no signs of wanting to back down and have no shows -- have shown no signs of backing down. And if you speak to Russian officials, you basically can't even talk about the topic of Crimea because they'll say, look, Crimea is Russia now. And that's the end of that.

They certainly don't show any signs of backing down in the Donbass either. What do you think that President Biden can actually achieve? And do you think it might have been a mistake to give that big card of the possible sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline out of his hand in the run up to that summit? That's been something that Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has heavily criticized.

BILDT: I think it's important to get the message of President Putin that sanctions on the table. I mean, the sanctions against Nord Stream 2 was only against Nord Stream 2. But if the Russians were to make any further aggressive moves against Ukraine, it should be made clear from the American and from the European side that that further substantial sanctions against the Russian economy as such, that should be on the table.

As you say, they are very firm on Ukraine, we must make certain that that issue is on the table as well. But Donbass really, what are they doing there is the main source of from their point of view and they should back down from that. And then we should have international efforts to seek some sort of solution there in terms of rehabilitation of the area that's been destroyed. I mean, there used to be five, seven million people living there.

There is a 1-1/2 or something like that elderly, desperate people in poverty and despair. I mean, they really messed it up. And that message, I think, is very important to get across the Kremlin. And then I would assume that the hope that he will bring up the human rights issues in Russia, they have entered a very repressive face against any sort of opposition in Russia and are these destructive also to the future of Russia itself.


PLEITGEN: And certainly also destructive to the future of relations of Russia with the West at least as long as that acceleration continues. Carl Bildt, I want to thank you very much there in Bratislava in Slovakia. Always great to speaking to you. As you can see, Anna, there certainly are a lot of topics that are on the agenda. And it really doesn't only pertain to the U.S. and its European allies. It really is global.

I also saw that they wanted to talk about the Korean Peninsula, for instance. They want to talk about the Iran, the Nuclear Agreement, of course. Afghanistan, the Middle East, all sort of topics that are on the agenda. So, it really is a wide ranging summit. But again, the expectations at this point in time are being kept low by both sides, Anna.

COREN: Yes. A smart move. Fred Pleitgen, good to see you. We'll catch you a bit later in the show many things.

The leader of the European Union confirms China was a large part of the discussions at the recent G7 Summit. And for its part, China blasted the summit communique as a serious violation of international relations. Well, Beijing took issue in part with the G7 condemning recent tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The president of the E.U. says there are some areas where the bloc can work with China and other areas where it must speak up.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: China has been a big topic at G7. So they are extensively we have been discussing it. And we are very clearly aligned that the European Union says yes, there are ways where we cooperate with China, for example, on the common goal to fight climate change. We are strong economic competitors without any questions. If it comes to the system itself, it comes to human rights and human dignity we are systemic rivals, without any question.

And it was very clear and G7 that we have to speak up on that, that we have to call on that. And be very clear that this is the main issue that clearly divides us.


COREN: And China didn't just express its anger in words, it also did so in the skies. Let's bring in Will Ripley for U.S. from Taipei. Will, China's foreign ministry has taken exception to the international criticism from the G7 and NATO saying that, "The era for one country or a bloc of countries dictating world affairs is over." Singling out the U.S. is very sick. On top of this war of words we've also seen PLA planes flying to international airspace very close to Taiwan. Tell U.S. more.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was 28 Chinese military planes. You have two kinds of fighter jets, nuclear capable bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, early warning aircraft. This is the biggest operation since Taiwan began keeping record of this kind of thing last year and it beats the previous record of 25 planes back on April 12th. Clearly, China is sending a message to whom and what is the message remains unclear because even though you have that messaging from the foreign ministry. There have been previous statements from the Chinese Embassy in

London, calling the United States out for what Beijing considers sinister intentions and distortion of facts. You have no comment from China's defense ministry and this operation was so complex analysts say. It would have been difficult to pull together just 48 hours after the G7 joint communique. Now I want to also flag that there was another incident that Beijing considered provocative here on the island of Taiwan back on June 6th when the United States flew in a senate delegation, three U.S. senators landed in a giant C17 transport jet.

Of course, images of that landing went viral here in Taiwan and were considered a provocation by Beijing. These American senators stayed for about three hours. They met briefly with President Tsai Ing-wen and had a photo op. But that was another action that analysts say likely could have been a precursor for this latest act of Chinese military intimidation. And you have a statement in response from the spokesperson for the Taiwanese President Kolas Yotaka.

I believe we have her -- I'm sorry, Kolas Yotaka, we have her tweet available on a -- on a graphic here. It says Chinese warplanes may 28 unnecessary incursions into the Taiwan Strait today, adding to China's CO2 emissions, calm down neither Taiwan nor the earth are your enemy. So, Anna, you heard the G7 leaders talking about cooperation on climate change and you got a not so subtle dig from the presidential spokesperson Kolas Yotaka on that issue as well.

COREN: Will Ripley joining U.S. from Taiwan. Good to see you. Many thanks. Well, Israel's military says launched airstrikes into Gaza. The first strike under Naftali Bennett's new government. More on this developing news story next.

Plus, some International Olympic Committee members are facing quarantine before they'll be allowed to help prepare for the Tokyo games.


COREN: Welcome back. Well now to developing news from the Mideast. Israel's military says it has struck targets in Gaza in response to the incendiary balloons. It says spot fires in Israel. Just take a look at this new video of the attack. This is the first major flare up since a ceasefire ended 11 days of deadly fighting last month between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The strikes come just days after Naftali Bennett took over as Israel's Prime Minister. CNN Hadas Gold joins U.S. now from Jerusalem. Hadas, incendiary balloons from Gaza and not uncommon yet this reaction from Israel has been criticized as disproportionate and it comes just days after Israel's new coalition government came to power. What's been the reaction?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, that's right. Incendiary balloons launched by Hamas militants from Gaza into Israel not uncommon. And we're seeing reports that these balloons yesterday caused at least 20 different fires. And there was a big question for this new government that was only sworn in on Sunday. How would they react to any sort of action taken from Hamas militants because this is the first time in 12 years that somebody other than Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the government.

And we saw the response was airstrikes. Now according to the IDF, they say that they struck Hamas military complexes and meeting places. Palestinian media is saying that the strikes caused material damages and -- but no casualties. But clearly this is a very big move. There was a ceasefire, there is technically a ceasefire still in place after that 11-day conflict. There are reports, however, that when Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was in government under Benjamin Netanyahu that he had pushed for greater action from the Israeli side in response to these types of balloons.

Because in the past sometimes the Israeli military would not necessarily respond with airstrikes to these balloons. But I have to say, after the latest military conflict last month. The feeling that I got from sources from Israeli officials with that -- was that the dimensions had changed and that Israel was no longer going to stand by when these types of actions were taken when these balloons were launched.

And that they wanted a harder response in response to these balloons being launched. Of course, the real question will be what will this further cause. We have not seen any reports from -- for example rockets being fired by militants from Gaza into Israel, but it just goes to show you how tense the ceasefire is and how fragile it is and what a major test it is for this brand new government. Anna?

COREN: Well, Hadas, speaking of provocative actions, there was a right-wing marched through East Jerusalem, which obviously was seen as provocative towards Palestinians. So much is chanting Death to the Arabs. I mean, why was this march approved during such a sensitive time particularly when Prime Minister Naftali Bennett needs to prove himself as a unifying leader?

GOLD: So, Anna, this march known as the flag March actually happens every year. And it's usually part of Jerusalem Day commemorations and it's usually attended by a Jewish right-wing groups and they're celebrating when Israel took control of the Western Wall in East Jerusalem in the 1967 War.


GOLD: It was actually originally supposed to take place last month. But as it was getting underway, that was when Hamas first fired seven rockets towards Jerusalem that of course helping to trigger this 11- day conflict. Now under Benjamin Netanyahu's government, it was rescheduled to yesterday to Tuesday. And one of the folks asked -- acts of this new government was to allow the march to take place.

However, police did not allow the marchers to go through the Damascus Gate entrance to the old city that leads directly into the Muslim Quarter. It is one of the main entrances for Muslim worshippers who enter the Old City of Jerusalem. Instead, the marchers arrived to the area just in front of the gate. They dance, they sang with flags. But as you noted, they were shouting some provocative slogans.

I was there I heard them saying things like Jerusalem is ours, Jerusalem is our home. And some of them were saying death to Arabs. Now they continue their march along the outside of the Old City entering through Jaffa gate, but it was seen as a very provocative move. The Palestinian Prime Minister condemning it. But also I think this is different. The foreign minister, the Israeli foreign minister also condemning those slogans as well. Anna?

COREN: Hadas Gold joining U.S. from Jerusalem. Thank you for the update.

The CDC is now calling the Delta variant first identified in India a variant of concern. Well, that's a degree of severity more than its previous designation as a variant of interest. And its increased transmissibility has helped push the U.S. to a grim milestone. The country now has surpassed more than 600,000 COVID-related deaths, almost as many as the number of soldiers believed to have died during the American Civil War.

But many cities across the U.S. are now seeing low COVID case rates, and some trying to focus on a return to normal. CNN's Nick Ward has more on the reopenings across the U.S.



NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The countdown to 8:00 a.m. Langers Deli prepping to open its dining room for the first time in more than 15 months.

SMITH: We'll be able to put a smile on all my employees faces and all of my customers faces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I've been off since March of 2020.

WATT: Across California, no more capacity limits or social distancing and restaurants and stores. And most places no mask required for the vaccinated.

This the most populous state in the nation was the first to tell it's nearly 40 million people to stay home. And that was more than 450 days ago.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We need to bend the curve in the State of California.

WATT: A grim faced governor then grinning now at Universal Studios.

NEWSOM: We are here June 15 to turn the page and move beyond wearing these masks.

WATT: And Disneyland once again welcoming visitors from out of state over in New York State.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-CA): This is a momentous day.

WATT: Seventy percent of adults have now had at least one dose.

CUOMO: It means that we can now return to life as we know it.

WATT: As at lunchtime, New York State COVID restrictions are no more.

The virus has now killed more than 600,000 in America. More will die but how many? We watched the Delta variant ravaged India. The CDC just changed it from variant of interest to variant of concern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm extremely worried because the Delta variant is so aggressive in terms of transmission. Anyone who's unvaccinated right now is a very, very high risk, especially in the south this summer.

WATT: Roughly 55 percent of adults in America are now fully vaccinated, but the rollout is slowing. And it's uneven geographically, demographically.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE: If you have more than, you know, roughly half of the population vaccinated. It's not as if half the people you know are vaccinated and half aren't. Either just about everybody, you know, is vaccinated or everybody, you know, isn't.

WATT: in these states as of this morning, more than 60 percent of those counted by the CDC were fully vaccinated. In these states, under 45.

SLAVITT: They're going to be really subject to potential outbreaks and those outbreaks are not going to hopefully -- we have quite the wildfire spread as we saw in 2020. But they're still going to impact those communities pretty strongly.


COREN: CNN's that Nick Watt reporting there.

Well, Japan is working to ramp up its vaccination rollout. As the Tokyo Olympics are quickly approaching. Only about five percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. And while cases are showing signs of decline, some fear the Olympics could spark a surge in infections. Japan's vaccine minister says the country should boost its daily vaccination rate by the end of the month.


TARO KONO, JAPAN'S VACCINE MINISTER: Well, daily, I think we're administrating about 800,000 doses a day and It's going up.


KONO: So, hopefully sometime by the end of June, I think we'll reach one million a day.


COREN: We're just about five weeks to go until the Tokyo games. Olympic organizers have a stark warning for the athletes. The latest playbook says Olympians could be disqualified if they break COVID rules. CNN's Blake Essig joins us now from Tokyo. And Blake, obviously laying down the rules, what constitutes breaking the rules?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, Anna. I mean, a lot of -- a lot of things were laid out in this playbook. But exactly what the penalties will be for breaking the rules isn't quite clear. Although changes can still be made with just 37 days to go before the games begin. Olympic organizers did release the third version of the playbooks that outlines the rules, regulations and COVID-19 countermeasures to be followed during these games.

Now, what's clear when looking through the 70-page athletes' playbook is that participants are going to have to face a major logistical challenge and a lot of red tape throughout the course of the games. And perhaps the biggest change in the latest version of this playbook has to do with what happens if athletes break the rules. Well, some of those rules outlined include refusing to take a COVID-19 test, going to destinations not outlined in the athletes' activity plan, not wearing a mask or not respecting social distancing requirements. Take a listen to IOC officials outline some of the possible penalties.


PIERRE DUCREY, IOC OLYMPIC GAMES OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: The means to react, it could go from warnings to temporary or permanent exclusion of the games, withdrawal of the aggravation. We also have the possibility to disqualify with the consequences that are documented in the charter or to impose financial sanctions. So this range of measures are available to the IOC and the IPC as well.


ESSIG: Organizers say the wide range of penalties that could be implemented will be decided on a case by case basis. Now to protect the health and safety participants in the Japanese people, organizers say that testing is the key to preventing the spread of infection athletes and during the country starting July 1st will have to take two separate tests. One, within 96 hours of departure and other, within 72 hours, athletes will then again be tested once they arrive in Japan.

And then from that point will be tested daily moving forward. Now, if there is a positive test, that person will immediately be tested again, and if a second positive test is confirmed, that athlete would be withdrawn from competition and taken to a designated facility outside of the Olympic Village. Anna.

COREN: Blake Essig joining us from Tokyo. Many thanks for that update.

Brazil's Health Ministry says cases of COVID-19 at the Copa America tournament have jumped to 53 so far. But the South American Football Confederation tells CNN only 18 people have tested positive at the tournament. So far, neither organization has clarified the discrepancy. Stefano Pozzebon reports on how the event is being welcomed inside Brazil.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Copacabana is the beating heart of Rio de Janeiro. But as Brazil's most iconic city hosts South America Premier Football tournament, the passion is missing. Stadiums are close to the public nor live audience admitted. The fans are few and far between. President Jair Bbolsonaro's bet on football to leave the country spirit in the midst of the pandemic, failing to get most Brazilians on board.

This is about respect. With all the people who are dying. It feels wrong. What we need is to look after ourselves. Masks, vaccines, but to look at our president. It took him weeks to negotiate the vaccines, and in two days he accepted the Copa America.

SERGIO PLASENCIA, OPPOSES BRAZIL HOSTING COPA AMERICA: Sergio Plasencia is a street seller on Copacabana. While he opposes Bolsonaro in the decision to host the tournament, his friend Anderson Migliano who works for Petrobras, one of Brazil's largest corporation thinks he might be good for the economy.

ANDERSON MIGILIANO, SUPPORTS BRAZIL HOSTING COPA AMERICA: Maybe we have some jobs, of course, the people that work on the stage and the hotels.

POZZEBON: Like many others in Brazil, Migliano and Plasencia are united by the law for the game, but on opposing political sides.

(on camera): The Copa America has become a deeply politicized issue here in Brazil. If football used to be what brought the country together, and a point of pride for Brazil, even that has become contentious now.

(voice-over): While Bolsonaro promotes the tournament on his Twitter feed. His opponents plan to rally to demand his impeachment this weekend.

To make things worse, more than 30 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed among players and stuff. Contrast that to the 24 nation Euro Cup currently underway in Europe reports in less than 10 cases.

POZZEBON: And the pandemic continuing to wreak havoc throughout South America, with deaths claiming and no end in sight.


Here in Brazil vaccines seem to be the only thing everyone agrees on.


POZZEBON: Plasencia, and his friend Migliano, hoping that soon, football will just be about the love of the game once again.

Stephen Pozzebon, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


COREN: The upcoming summit will put President Biden's diplomatic skills to the test on the world stage. But he is not the only one. Coming up, what Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to get out of the account.


PLEITGEN: And welcome back to our special coverage of the meeting between the U.S. and Russian president. My name is Frederik Pleitgen and I come in you -- to you from Geneva in Switzerland.

And just a few hours, Joe Biden will have the first face to face meeting of his presidency with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. The U.S. president arrived here in Geneva, in Switzerland, only a few hours ago. He was greeted by the Swiss president. U.S. officials are keeping expectations low for the highly anticipated summit.

And, of course, there are broad disagreements between the two leaders on a wide range of issues. Those include alleged Russian hacking, prisoner swaps, Moscow support of autocrats and the treatment of jailed Putin-critic Alexei Navalny.

U.S. officials are tamping down expectations for results from the summit, but President Biden has said one goal is to see whether president Putin will agree to a more stable and predictable relationship. As our own Matthew Chance explains, this is what Moscow wants.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT: What the Kremlin says is, you know, like the White House does. There are areas of common ground where they want to cooperate about climate change. We're talking about regional conflicts where it would be appropriate and the Kremlin want cooperation with the White House and with the Americans on those issues.

There is also sense in which the relationship is like a runaway train. You know, there are not even ambassadors in each other's countries. And so the Kremlin wants to apply the brake a bit to that. But without a doubt, what the Kremlin wants more than anything else is the symbolism of this summit. It already got the fact that it's being stage shows Vladimir Putin at the top table diplomatically, you know, sharing dialogue with the president of the United States, that will play immensely well back at home and also around the world, you know, people watching this.


And, of course, he's going to want to show his domestic audience and people around the world that he can stand up to the Americans. So, you know, don't expect any compromises on the issue of cyber warfare, no compromises on the issue of military threats to Ukraine or on the crackdown on opposition figures inside Russia. I'd be shocked if Putin gave an inch on any of those issues.


PLEITGEN: And, of course, Vladimir Putin is an extremely experienced leader, and power for more than 20 years. And he has sat across from five U.S. presidents. Here is a look back from our own John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin is a familiar villain on the world stage. He came to power more than two decades ago back in 1999 and has both captivated and frustrated American presidents sense. Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president to have a summit with Putin. Tomorrow in Geneva, Joe Biden becomes the fifth.

Let's walk through some of these history. Number one, if you look here, to my right, to the left of your screen, that was when Putin took over from Boris Yeltsin back at the beginning in 1999, this in an NBC interview in advance of the Biden summit here. If you remember some of the more memorable moments, George W. Bush, first met with Vladimir Putin, the Russia summit and Slovenia, I covered this summit back in June 2001. Bush shocking the world after the brief meeting with the Russian leader by being incredibly optimistic about the capabilities.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I looked the man in the eye, I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. And we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

KING: President Bush would go on to have a very different view of the man he said he had a sense of his soul.

President Obama then his first meeting was in July 2009 of the U.S.- Russia summit in Moscow. At this point, Putin had left the presidency and was prime minister. He would come back to be president again, part of how he has worked this system in Russia. But Obama went into the, again, optimistic that somehow he could change the Russian president's behavior and get a, quote/unquote, reset. He did it by praising Putin.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I am aware of not only the extraordinary work you've done on behalf of the Russian people in your previous roles as President but in your current role as Prime Minister.

There is an excellent opportunity to put U.S./Russian relations on a much stronger foot.

KING: Russian military aggression in Europe, Russian meddling in U.S. the election, all continued under the Obama administration.

And under Donald Trump, it was 4 years of funding. Donald Trump never had a bad thing to say about Vladimir Putin. Their first meeting was at a G20 summit in July 2017 in Germany. Then there was the Helsinki summit where for Trump said he believed Putin when he said he didn't interfere in the election. From beginning to end, when it was Trump and Putin, the American president praising, even saying he was honored.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it's going very well. We've had some very, very good talks. We're going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue. We'll probably look forward to a lot a very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned. It's an honor to be with you. Thank you.

KING: And so tomorrow, Joe Biden becomes again the fifth American president to sit across the table from Vladimir Putin. Biden says he goes into this meeting with no allusions. He calls Putin publicly a killer. He says maybe he won't even listen, but Joe Biden says, I'm going to try to make some progress and then we'll go from there.


PLEITGEN: John King reporting there. Stay with CNN. We're going to take a quick break. Thank you very much for tuning in.



COREN: Las Vegas is expected to hit a 116 degrees Fahrenheit, that's 47 degrees Celsius today. More than 50 million Americans are now under a heat alert as temperatures soared a record high across the Western U.S.

What's behind the sweltering surge and how long will it last? CNN's Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with all the answers. Pedram, what is going on?

PEDRAM, JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anna, you know, this is a long duration event and the deadliest, the most lethal of weather events are heat waves. That's really what's most concerning. People often give all the attention to hurricanes, to tornadoes especially across the United States but you put the death toll typically any given year for those two events together and heat almost always exceeds that and that's the concern in the long duration setup here.

But we have a dome of high pressure that has developed across the Western United States. And with high pressure, it likes to cause the air to sink. When you sink air, it warms up because it compresses and kind of use the analogy of a bicycle pump, if you pump a tire on your bicycle, you felt maybe the pump -- or even the basketball, you feel the pump begins to warm up and that's because the air is compressing inside that pump.

And on a broader scale across the Western United States, that is precisely what's happening. 50 million Americans, as you noted, and are sitting at risk here, for these extreme temperatures that are in place there. So, again, record temperatures, widespread, and when you look at this particular set up, it is going to continue, potentially through Sunday afternoon. So it is a multiday set up, with as many as 275 record temperatures that could be shattered when you span from Tuesday all the way through Saturday.

And with high pressure building in staying put, the concern is it's not just around the Southwestern U.S., where typically is hot, but even in some of those northern areas as well, for north, let's say Montana and Idaho as well.

You noted 46 degrees, that is going to be just about a degree shy of the all-time record ever observed in the city of Las Vegas. And you'll notice it really doesn't cool off much beyond that over the next several days. The area of coverage with the heat alerts that are in place, and the valley of the sun in Phoenix, Arizona, temperatures, historic territories as well.

And, Anna, what's important note, this summer in the northern hemisphere officially arrives on Sunday. And you'll notice these temperatures and historic values in the later portion of the spring season. Incredible set up there.

COREN: Yes, best to stay indoors. Pedram Javahari, thank you for the explanation, great to see you. And thank you for watching. I'm Anna Coren from Hong Kong, World Sport is up.