US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meetings on June 16, 2021 at a historic summit in Geneva.At the end of their talks,first such meeting since 2018, both the leaders praised their talks, but have made little concrete progress.Biden said the tone of the talks were “positive,” and he told Putin that certain US “critical infrastructure” should be off-limits for cyberattacks. Putin described the summit as “constructive,” saying both countries will begin consultations on cybersecurity and US and Russian ambassadors will return to their diplomatic posts.
Disagreements were stated, said Biden, but not in a hyperbolic way, and he said Russia did not want a new Cold War.Putin said, Biden was an experienced statesman and the two “spoke the same language.” The talks lasted four hours, less time than was scheduled.Biden said they did not need to spend more time talking and there was now a genuine prospect to improve relations with Russia. The two sides agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control. They also said they would return ambassadors to each other’s capitals – the envoys were mutually withdrawn for consultations in March, after the US accused Russia of meddling in the 2020 presidential election. However, there was little sign of agreement on other issues, including cyber-security, Ukraine and the fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny,
“I really do think — not me, but I think we, the country, has put a different face on where we’ve been and where we’re going, and I feel good about it,” Biden said to the press, reflecting on his first foreign trip as President before boarding Air Force One. “There was a summary done by him and by me of what we covered. Lavrov and Blinken talked about what we covered. We raised things that required more amplification or we made sure we did not have any misunderstandings. It was after two hours there, we looked at each other like, ‘okay, what next?’ What is going to happen next is we’re going to be able to look back, look ahead in three to six months and say, did the things we agree to sit down and work out, did it work? Are we closer to a major strategic stability talks and progress? … That’s going to be the test. I am not sitting here saying because the President and I agreed we would do these things that all of a sudden it’s going to work. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that I think there’s a genuine prospect to significantly improve the relations between the two countries, without giving up anything on principles and values.”
Biden also reiterated that “there were no threats” during the meeting. “Just simple assertions made… Just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there were violations of American sovereignty, what would we do,” Biden said.The US and Russia released a joint statement on Wednesday following the summit between the countries’ two leaders, noting that “even in periods of tension,” the two nations share goals of “ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war.”
“The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the statement said. “Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” US President Joe Biden boarded Air Force One and departed Geneva en route to Washington, DC, following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.