After a 3-hour long summit with President Putin, Biden outlines progress between the pair– and disagreements. Delaney Tarr reports on the main takeaways from the press conference.
After a relatively short meeting with President Putin, President Biden addressed the press to say the heads of state are focused on “how we move from here.”
The summit, scheduled to last four or five hours, ended in three. Biden said the pair covered “so much” in the short time.
The meeting between heads of state was much-anticipated, but Biden opened his remarks by calming the expectation. “I know there was a lot of hype around this meeting, but it’s pretty straightforward to me,” said Biden.
The president outlined the key components of his approach to the bilateral meeting: identifying areas of practical work for the two countries to advance mutual interest, communicating directly that the US will respond to actions that impair their vital interest and laying out the country’s priorities and values.
Biden’s key issue was strategic stability between nations. He announced that the pair had agreed to launch a bilateral strategic stability dialogue. The two countries will bring together military experts and diplomats to work on the control of new sophisticated and dangerous weapons.
The president also tackled cybersecurity, a fraught topic after recent ransomware attacks on US industries by Russian criminal groups.
Next up, press conferences. pic.twitter.com/TrNOEO3hox
— Meghan Hays (@MegHays46) June 16, 2021
Biden told reporters that he outlined 16 American infrastructures that should be off-limits to attack, citing them as critical under US policy. He said the US has “significant cyber capability” to respond with if Putin violates basic norms.
Biden also eased concern surrounding tensions between the two nations.
“I think the last thing he wants is a Cold War,” said Biden. He said it doesn’t mean Putin’s ready to lay down arms, but that a Cold War isn’t the driving force for the Russian president’s relationship with the US.
The president described the meeting as “colloquial” all around, and asserted that there were no threats, only “simple assertions”.
Yet Biden made clear it wasn’t “kumbayah” all around. After confusion earlier today around Biden’s trust of Putin, the president reframed the conversation.
“This is not about trust. This is about self-interest, and verification of self-interest,“ said Biden.
Biden made clear, though, that the US will not ease on Russia’s interference and human rights violations.
In Putin’s press conference, he was questioned on human rights. The Russian president said he’s cracking down on opposition because he doesn’t want a repeat of the January 6th attacks on the US capitol.
“That’s a ridiculous comparison,” said Biden. He outlined the notable difference between infiltration and attacks on the U.S. Capitol and protests for free speech.
Biden also pressed hard on Putin’s refusal to take responsibility for Russian interference with US elections and the recent ransomware attacks.
“He knows I will take action,” said Biden. He said the US won’t allow Russian interference to continue.
Biden repeatedly raised the idea of Russia’s “reputation” as a legitimate world power, saying it would motivate many of Putin’s decisions in the realm of human rights violations and Russian interference within other nations.
The summit covered myriad topics, but Biden said the true results will come 3-6 months later after plans are implemented. In the meantime, Biden said the meeting was “positive” and the pair seemed to reach an agreement on different issues.
“It was important to meet in person, so there can be no mistake or misrepresentation about what I wanted to communicate. I did what I wanted to do,” said Biden.
Biden snapped at CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins at the end of the conference, who pressed him on what makes him confident Putin will change his behavior after the meeting. Biden was making his exit when she asked.
“I’m not confident” Biden shouted, and turned back to the press, “what the hell, what do you do all the time?”, with his finger raised, Biden asked Collins. “What I said was … what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world,” said Biden. Collins pushed further, asking how the meeting could be considered constructive given Putin’s behavior.
Biden turned back again, and said: “If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.”
After the incident, Biden said he apologized to Kaitlin Collins for snapping at her at the end of the press conference. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” he said but still defended his answer to her, saying it was important to be realistic but show an optimistic face.
President Biden has since boarded AF1 and is headed back to the US after an eventful first foreign trip.