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16 Jun, 2021 17:20

‘I did what I came to do’: Biden expresses satisfaction with Putin summit in solo presser, says no threats or ultimatums were made

‘I did what I came to do’: Biden expresses satisfaction with Putin summit in solo presser, says no threats or ultimatums were made

US President Joe Biden held a solo press conference after the summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva, on Wednesday, praising the value of personal interaction but giving few details about what was achieved.

As has become customary, Biden took questions from a pre-arranged list of reporters, only going off-script toward the end. He described the meeting as “pretty straightforward” and repeatedly referred to the value of a face-to-face, personal relationship in foreign policy.

“I did what I came to do,” Biden told reporters, explaining that he identified areas where the two countries might do “practical work” together, told Putin that the US will “respond” to actions that threaten its interests or those of its allies, and clearly laid out US “priorities and values.” 

Folks look, this is about, this is about how we move from here. This is about… practical, straightforward no-nonsense decisions that we have to make or not make.

He initially said the meeting had lasted four hours, but later said they ran out of things to discuss after only two, causing some confusion among the press. In total, the summit wrapped in under three hours; after the initial 90-minute meeting with only the top diplomats and translators in attendance, more aides were called in. 

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The two presidents “discussed in detail” the next steps in arms control, and Biden said they agreed to launch “a bilateral strategic stability dialogue” on the military and diplomatic level. They also raised the topic of cybersecurity, with Biden giving Putin “a list of 16 specific entities” of critical infrastructure that the US thinks should be off-limits to hackers.

The Arctic, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program also came up, Biden said.

Asked about raising the issue of Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny or Americans jailed in Russia, Biden said that as the US president, he has to raise the issue of human rights, because that’s “about who we are,” and described the US as “uniquely a product of an idea,” unlike Russia.

No threats or ultimatums were made in the meeting, Biden said.

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The US president had declined to take part in a joint press conference with his Russian colleague, but said he watched Putin take reporters’ questions earlier in the day. While Putin took questions from many US outlets, no Russian media were invited to Biden’s conference. The only Russian reporter who got to ask a question was from the US government-funded channel Current Time, controlled by the state-run RFE/RL, whose question Biden answered by talking about a “brief shining moment” in the 1990s when Russia could have chosen to become a US-style democracy.

He neglected to mention that the country's economy effectively collapsed, at the time time, leaving tens of millions destitute, and the state barely able to function. 

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