A joint press conference is traditional when two world leaders meet and President Donald Trump held one with Putin when the two men met in Helsinki in July 2018.
It was an indication both of the administration's reluctance to grant Putin yet another prominent platform in addition to the summit itself - as well as a reluctance on the part of the White House to put Biden in an unscripted situation that could go off the rails.
The two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday in an 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva. It's their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president.
``We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting—both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns,' a White House official announced on Saturday.
If they were to do a joint presser, Putin would get the chance to undercut serious warnings Biden wants to deliver on Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and cyber issues. Putin has already scoffed at the issue by raising treatment of US Capitol demonstrators in an attempt to establish equivalency.
The format of the meeting is still being concluded, though according to the official, the intention is 'for both a working session and a smaller session.'
Russian and American officials have been going back-and-forth on the format of the meeting, volleying opinions and jockeying for position as the date gets nearer.
The sit down comes amid growing tensions between Washington and Moscow, with Biden making it plain he will take a tougher position on Russian aggression than his predecessor in the Oval Office, Donald Trump.
'We're under no illusions that this is going to be an easy relationship; it is going to be an extremely challenging relationship. And I think we've been quite clear about that,' a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call Friday.
Whatever the final format ends up being, it is supposed to be much different than the last meeting between a Russian and American president - both in message and visuals.
Two years ago, Trump met privately for two hours with Putin in Helsinki and, later, they stood side-by-side to answer questions from reporters.
Back then, Trump sided with the Kremlin over US intelligence agencies, insisting he believed his Russian counterpart when Putin said the Kremlin didn't interfere in US elections.
'President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be,' Trump said.