GENEVA – US President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have ended their summit in Geneva, describing Biden as ‘good’ and ‘positive’.
But he further described the summit in a realistic tone, saying that the coming months would be a “test” of whether relations between the two countries could improve.
“I do not sit here and say because the president and I have agreed that we will do these things that it will suddenly work,” Biden told the news conference after his more than three-hour meeting with Putin. “I’m not saying that.
“From what I say, I think there is a real prospect of significantly improving relations between our two countries without giving up a single, separate thing based on the principle and our values,” Biden said.
In his post-summit press conference, Putin, through an interpreter, also described the meeting as ‘constructive’. He said there was “no hostility”, calling the US leader a “constructive person, well-balanced and experienced, an experienced politician”.
After the summit, both the White House and the Kremlin released identical statementsand noted that “both in periods of tension” have shown both countries that they are capable of making progress with ‘shared goals to ensure predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflict and the threat of nuclear war’.
Both governments have said they will begin consultations on strategic stability to manage relations. Putin noted at his press conference that the US and Russia, as nuclear powers, have a special responsibility to maintain relations.
“The recent extension of the New START Treaty illustrates our commitment to the control of nuclear weapons. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and that it must never be waged,” the White House and the Kremlin said.
“In line with these objectives, the United States and Russia will in the near future engage in an integrated bilateral strategic stability dialogue that will be purposeful and robust. Through this dialogue, we want to lay the foundations for future arms control and risk mitigation measures,” the statement said. .
Although both leaders noted that the talks were productive, it is clear that divisions exist.
Biden said there were differences of opinion, but ‘this was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere’, adding that no threats were made during the meeting.
These disputes include the issue of Ukraine, cyber attacks and human rights.
“I pointed out to him that we have an important cyber capability, and he knows that. He does not know exactly what it is, but it is important,” Biden said, adding that he told Putin that critical US infrastructure was “important.” out of bounds’ should be. to cyber attacks.
It seems that Biden suggests that, should Moscow launch such an attack, the US could “retaliate in a cyber way”.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Well, how would you feel if loose cash from your oil fields took up the pipelines? ” Biden said.
Putin denies US allegations of electoral interference and cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks on U.S. businesses that, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, may be inside Russian territories.
Biden also said he had “made it clear” to Putin that the US would continue to address human rights issues.
“Human rights will always be on the table,” Biden sid said. He said he had raised issues such as the detention of Russian opposition leaders Alexey Navalny and Trevor Reed, a former US Marine who was locked up in Russia because ‘that’s who we are’.
Putin remained adamant about his position on Navalny. “This man knew he was breaking Russia’s law. “He has been convicted twice,” Putin said, keeping his habit of not saying the name of the opposition activist out loud.
Putin reiterated Russia’s official claim, saying Navalny violated bail conditions last year by going unconscious abroad after an apparent poisoning of Novichok and by not registering with Russian officials.
Biden emphasized a demand for press freedom. “I have also increased the ability of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty to function and the importance of a free press and freedom of speech,” Biden said, referring to the US media, which was branded by the Russian government as ‘foreign agents’. is stamped. and accused them of violating rules that could be punished with heavy fines, even jail time.
A recent incident in which a commercial airline had to land in Minsk so that Belarusian authorities could arrest a prominent dissident was also discussed, Biden said, adding that Putin ‘does not agree with what happened. ‘
“He just said it’s a perspective on what you do about it,” Biden said. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko relies heavily on Putin for support.
Ukraine appears to be another issue where the two leaders did not agree.
Biden said he had told Putin ‘an unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’.
“We have agreed to pursue diplomacy related to the Minsk Agreement,” he said, referring to the 2014 agreement to end the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Ahead of the summit, Ukrainian officials downplayed the prospect of ending the war in the eastern part of the country, which has been simmering for seven years between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army.
“We have made it very clear to our partners that no agreement on Ukraine without Ukraine will be recognized by us,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
On the issue of Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Putin gave a thorough assessment. “I think there is nothing to discuss there,” he said.
The Kremlin has declared that Ukraine’s accession to NATO is a “red line” for Russia. Asked earlier this week whether Ukraine should join NATO, Biden said: “It depends on whether they meet the criteria,” including clearing up corruption.
The administration announced earlier this month that Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the White House sometime this summer. Biden did not invite Putin to Washington.
No Cold War
Biden stressed that the “last thing” Putin wants now is a cold war. He said that while the end of the summit was not a ‘Kumbaya moment’, it was in none of the countries’ interests to be in a ‘new Cold War’ situation.
Biden further said he thinks Putin understands this, although that does not mean Putin is “willing to lay down his arms”. According to Biden, the Russian leader is still concerned that the US ‘wants to take him down’.
Putin said in an effort to reduce tensions, he and Biden agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in the future. US Ambassador John Sullivan and Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov left the post earlier this year amid deteriorating relations between the US and Russia. They both participated in the summit on extensive bilateral discussions.
According to a White House official, the summit ended at 05:05 CEST on Wednesday when the extensive bilateral settlement between the two delegations was concluded. This meeting on the US side included five senior officials, in addition to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The session, according to the official, ended after one extended bilateral meeting, not two as previously scheduled.