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How will the US-Russia summit in Geneva affect local residents?

How will the US-Russia summit in Geneva affect local residents?
Geneva's Mont-Blanc bridge is closed to traffic. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
US president Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in the Swiss city of Geneva on Wednesday. This is how the lives of local residents will be disrupted.

Switzerland is mobilising a “titanic” security effort for Wednesday’s meeting between US President Joe Biden and
Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, deploying around 4,000 police, troops and security personnel to guard the summit from all angles.

The two presidents will meet in a historic Villa La Grange located in the Eaux-Vives section of Geneva.

The location is off limits to members of public during the summit, but other parts of the city are under tightened security as well. 

Around 2,000 police staff — 95 percent of the total Geneva police workforce — have been mobilised, backed up by 900 officers from elsewhere in
Switzerland. The police in neighbouring France, a few kilometres away, are also on alert.

 Around a thousand troops have also been deployed, while the Swiss air force will be policing the sealed-off skies for up to 50 kilometres around the city.
Helicopters and fighter jets will be on duty.

Let’s start with the airport

From June 15th to 17th, the Federal Council “has approved a temporary restriction on the use of airspace in the Geneva area”, the government said.

“The Swiss Air Force will provide air policing and airspace surveillance”.

The army will station a battalion at the airport, while a surface-to-air defence system has been deployed

The use of airspace in the zone above the Place des Nations — the section where UN agencies are located — will be restricted from Tuesday 8am until Thursday  5pm, authorities said.

They added that “commercial flights will not be affected”, though some disruptions could happen as delegations arrive and depart.

READ MORE: Putin-Biden Geneva summit set for lakeside villa

What about the city itself?

From June 15th to 17th Genevans will  have to deal with increased police presence, along with restricted mobility and limited parking in certain sections of the city.

Camouflaged soldiers with backpacks and automatic weapons have been on duty outside La Grange, while police sniffer dogs have been checking out vehicles
parked near the perimeter.

READ MORE: Feeling of excitement: Americans in Switzerland welcome Joe Biden’s visit

Mobile military radar stations with spinning scanners have been deployed on the lakeside, normally the domain of ice cream eaters taking a stroll past the
small boats moored along the waterfront.

Across the city, several blocks around the five-star Intercontinental Hotel, where Biden will be staying, were blocked off with barbed-wire fencing, with
parking banned throughout the neighbourhood and police redirecting traffic.

The Geneva Council of State set up the security zone in which the movement of people and vehicles will be suspended during the summit Geneva. These sections will be cordoned off.

The “forbidden” zone goes from the Perle du Lac, right bank, along the Quai Wilson, passes by the Rousseau island, including the Mont-Blanc bridge, and then goes up the Gustave-Ador quay. It integrates the whole of Parc La Grange and Parc des Eaux-Vives, ending at the foot of the Cologny ramp.

This map shows (in red) which areas will be inaccessible during the summit.

Map by Canton de Genève

Given that all traffic in these areas will be suspended, Geneva officials are urging that companies allow their employees to work from home on June 16th.

Will there be protests and demonstrations?

It is possible, but so far the only one scheduled for Wednesday is by members of the local American community, who are celebrating Biden’s presence in Geneva.

They will rally from 11am to noon in front of the Cornavin train station.


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