Aug 24, 2023 - World

Scoop: Sullivan to host E3 counterparts for meeting amid Russia instability

National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaking at the White House on April 4. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to host his E3 counterparts from France, Germany and the U.K. for a retreat on Friday to discuss a set of global issues, including Russia's war in Ukraine and tensions with China, four European diplomats told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting was planned long in advance, but it will take place amid growing instability in Russia, especially after a plane believed to be carrying Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed on Wednesday, killing all 10 people on board.

  • Asked by reporters if Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the crash, President Biden said Wednesday: "There's not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind. But I don't know enough to know the answer."

Behind the scenes: A senior European diplomat said Sullivan organized the weekend retreat with his French, German and British counterparts as part of an effort to hold a strategic thinking session about issues related to the war in Ukraine, China and Africa in an informal setting.

  • Three of the European diplomats said the retreat will take place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
  • The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment about the retreat.

State of play: Sullivan on Thursday hosted the national security advisers of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. at the White House.

  • They discussed Ukraine, Russia and Niger, as well as issues related to the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, according to a readout of the meeting.
  • The national security advisers and senior G20 representatives of the five countries, as well as the EU also met to discuss issues related to next month's G20 summit in India.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Portsmouth is in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.  

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