Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin Summit Doesn't Signal New Friendliness with Russia, White House Says

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to take their icy relationship to the next level in the coming months—a face-to-face meeting in a third country.

But the White House insists it's not a signal that the two are on the path to becoming pals.

"We're not looking for an establishment of trust, as much as a predictability and stability because there are a range of threats and a range of opportunities in the world and the president wants to have the bandwidth to focus on them, not an adversarial relationship with Russia," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, just hours after the two leaders spoke by phone.

No date or other details have been set for their meeting, but Psaki said the goal is for it to take place in the coming months.

Biden and Putin have long had a tense relationship—a stark reversal from friendlier U.S.-Russia relations under Biden predecessor Donald Trump.

Last week, Psaki told reporters that Biden's "disturbed" by reports of the deteriorating health of imprisoned Putin critic Alexei Navalny and called for Navalny's release.

The White House readout of their Tuesday call didn't mention Navalny, who has been on a hunger strike in protest of poor health care while jailed. It said the two discussed "a number of regional and global issues," and that Biden "made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions."

Russia's release on their discussion described Biden expressing interest in "normalizing the state of affairs" between the countries.

"Both presidents expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue on the critical areas of ensuring global security, which would meet the interests not only of Russia and the United States, but the entire international community," according to the Russian government's version of the readout.

Biden joined with the European Union last month in imposing sanctions on Russian officials and entities over Navalny's treatment.

That followed a recent ABC News interview, during which Biden agreed that he thinks Putin should be described as a "killer." Putin responded by challenging Biden to a live telecast discussion.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken are in Brussels this week to meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Blinken noted Russia's "provocative action when it comes to Ukraine."

"We're now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine's border since 2014, and that is of deep concern not only to Ukraine, but to the United States, and indeed to many of our allies and partners," he said, according to a transcript from the State Department.

Biden urged Putin to deescalate tensions there, during their phone call, according to the readout and "emphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Putin Biden
Russian's then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (first at left) and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (second at right) meet on March 10, 2011, in Moscow. Getty Images