Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin at their first summit in Geneva on Wednesday (June 16) tried to ease the sharp rise in tensions in US-Russian relations. The President of the United States stated that his Kremlin opponents do not want new developments. cold war.
After more than three hours of talks, including two hours of separate talks with the Russian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, both leaders showed a cautious and positive attitude.
Putin, 68, called Biden, 78, a constructive and experienced partner, and said they speak “the same language.” But he added that there is no friendship, but a pragmatic dialogue about the interests of the two countries.
“The conversation was absolutely constructive,” Putin told reporters, adding that they agreed to let their ambassador restore their position as a diplomatic cure.
Biden called the meeting “very good” in an elegant villa on the shore of Lake Geneva.
A senior US official told reporters that Biden, Putin, their foreign minister and translator first met for 93 minutes. After the break, the two sides met in a larger group for 87 minutes, including their ambassador.
Putin said that it is “difficult to say” whether relations between the two countries will improve, but there is “a silver lining.”
Biden said: “This is not about trust, but about self-interest and verification of self-interest,” but he also mentioned the “real prospects” for improving relationships.
The US president, who is ending his arduous European diplomatic journey, said that he and Putin have discussed cooperation in areas where former superpower rivals have overlapping interests, including the Arctic, Iran and Syria.
However, Biden and Putin said that they share the responsibility for nuclear stability and will hold talks on possible changes to the new START arms limitation treaty that they have recently extended.
In February, Russia and the United States extended the new START for five years. The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and restricts the delivery of land-based and submarine-based missiles and bombers.
However, Biden emphatically warned the Kremlin not to conduct any cyber attacks on what he described as 16 clearly defined areas of critical US infrastructure.
Those areas that he did not disclose “should be restricted areas.” Biden warned that violations would cause the United States to respond with “cyber”.
Washington accused Moscow of at least harboring cyber ransomware groups and carrying out SolarWinds cyber attacks on American entities.
“I looked at him and said:’How would you feel if ransomware invaded your oilfield pipeline?’ He said:’This is very important,'” Biden told reporters in an unusual separate press conference This in itself is an example of the tension between the two countries.
The query mentions a cyber attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline Co system for several days in May, preventing millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the east coast.
Biden also vowed to take action against any cyber attacks in Russia: “I pointed out to him that we have strong cyber capabilities. And he knows.”
“We need some basic rules of the road that we can all follow,” Biden said, who once told Putin.
The US intelligence agency also claimed that the Russian agency carried out a dirty activity in an attempt to sabotage the last two presidential elections.
But for the argument that the world might witness a recurrence of the Cold War in the 20th century—when Washington and Moscow spent decades in a nuclear deadlock before the Soviet Union finally collapsed—Biden said Putin knew his limits.
“I think the last thing he wants right now is the Cold War,” Biden said.
Since Biden took office in January, diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington have almost broken down.
After Biden compared Putin as a “killer,” Russia took a rare move in March, recalling its ambassador Anatoly Antonov. American envoy John Sullivan also returned to Washington.
Putin said on Wednesday that he was satisfied with Biden’s interpretation of these remarks.
The summit had a good start, and the two leaders shook hands to the camera.
But Putin later resolutely rejected criticism of his human rights record and allegations of harbouring cybercriminals.
Instead, he claimed that “the world’s most cyberattacks come from the United States.”
Putin also tried to divert criticism of his treatment of his opponents—many high-profile critics were killed in Russia during his rule and the media were almost completely muffled—saying that the United States has bigger problems.
He implied that Washington was not qualified to teach Moscow on rights, and refuted the issue of his suppression of political opponents by saying that he was trying to avoid the “chaos” of popular movements such as “Black’s fate is also fate”.
“What we see is chaos, destruction, illegality, etc. We sympathize with the United States of America, but we don’t want this to happen on our territory, and we will do our best to not allow it to happen,” he said.
He also seems to question the legality of arresting the thugs who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6. These thugs tried to prevent Biden from gaining presidential certification after defeating his predecessor Donald Trump by more than 7 million votes in the November general election.
Biden said that any comparison of what happened on January 6 with the “Black People’s Fate” movement is “ridiculous.”
Biden said that he raised the human rights issue because his country has the “DNA” to do so, and because of the fate of American citizens imprisoned in Russia.
Putin stated that he believes some compromises can be found, although he did not disclose any prisoner exchange agreements.
Providing a better understanding of the US-Russian relationship—if not necessarily a friendlier relationship—can go a long way to what Putin is looking for: to increase respect on the world stage.
Biden’s description of the United States and Russia as “two great powers” will certainly please the Kremlin leader. He ruled his country for two decades, invaded Ukraine and Georgia, angered the West, and often brutally suppressed political dissidents.
Republican opponents who returned to Washington called Biden naive because he believed that contact with Putin would encourage him to get rid of Russia’s diplomatic indifference.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter: “I know very well that Putin can ignore what others think of him.” He said that Biden “has a wrong calculation.”
Cold war setting
The choice of Geneva is reminiscent of the Cold War summit held in the Swiss city by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.
The hilltop villa surrounded by barbed wire is heavily guarded. Grey patrol boats cruise along the lake, and heavily armed and camouflaged troops stand guard at the nearby marina.
But compared with 1985, compared with the increasingly rogue regime in the eyes of the Biden administration, it is not strategic nuclear weapons and competing ideologies that are tense.
At the summit, Putin argued that Moscow is only challenging the hegemony of the United States-this is part of the promotion of the so-called “multipolar” world, and Russia has narrowed the distance with China, the arguably more powerful opponent of the US.
In an interview with NBC News before the summit, he scoffed at allegations that he had anything to do with a cyber attack or the near-fatal poisoning of one of his last remaining domestic opponents, Alexei Navalny.
For Biden, the summit ended his first intensive foreign visit as president. He arrived in Geneva after the summits with NATO and the European Union in Brussels and the G7 summit in the UK.
Unlike Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump meeting Putin in Helsinki in 2018, there was no joint press conference at the end of the summit.
The US clearly wants to avoid sharing such a platform with the Russian president.