At their first bilateral summit since Biden was president, the two superpowers agreed to cooperate on various issues including cyber terrorism and arms control, as well as to reestablish full diplomatic relations.
The first high-level bilateral summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and cooperation. Photo: EFE.
After an “open” and “frank” conversation aimed at stabilizing relations between the two countries, Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that there would be “devastating” consequences for Russia if opposition activist Alexei Navalny dies in prison.
In their first face-to-face meeting as leaders, the presidents agreed to establish a bilateral dialogue for the prevention of cyber attacks, restart discussions on arms control, restore ambassadors in their respective missions, and explore a possible exchange of citizens who are detained in their respective prisons, Putin said.
Billed as a gathering full of complex issues and mutual grievances, Putin told reporters after the three-and-a-half hour event that “there was no hostility” and that the dialogue had been “efficient … and constructive.”
“This was a productive meeting,” Putin said. “It was fruitful. It was direct and took place in a conducive environment… and we could glimpse confidence and hope ”.
Putin praised Biden’s moral qualities and described his approach as pragmatic and well-balanced, but said it was “hard to know” if that would lead to better relations.
Biden told the press that he gave Putin a list made up of 16 “infrastructure” sectors – including the energy sector and the hydrological system – that he considers “critical and [que] they should be untouchable ”when it comes to cyber attacks.
“I asked him: ‘How would you feel if a ransomware disrupted the pipelines that come out of your oil fields’?” Biden said.
But he echoed Putin’s remarks on the tone of the meeting, which he described as “good, positive … without any strident action.”
He added that he mentioned to Putin the issue of Navalny’s arrest and what would happen if the activist died in prison. “I made it clear to him that the consequences would be devastating for Russia if that happened.”
Navalny was arrested and sentenced to prison recently after returning to Russia. “Human rights are always on the table,” Biden said.
Putin had answered questions about Navalny saying that he had violated Russian law and knew that he would be imprisoned if he returned to Russia, expressing the belief that his political activity sought to weaken Russia.
The meeting began around 1:30 local time with a handshake between the two leaders at Villa La Grange, an 18th-century building on the shores of Lake Geneva, and ended a little after five in the afternoon, just over an hour earlier than estimated by members of the respective teams.
Cyber warfare had been one of the main stumbling blocks before the summit, following several large-scale attacks on US government agencies last year by groups based in Russia, and corresponding disinformation campaigns in the United States that allegedly stemmed from from Moscow-backed organizations.
Biden had described Putin as a “worthy adversary” before the meeting and said he had to clarify to the Russian leader “where the red lines are.” Russia was trying to break transatlantic solidarity and the US was experiencing an increase in malicious computer activity, Biden said. He promised that he would respond similarly if necessary.
“We believe that the cyber world is extraordinarily important in general terms and for the US in particular, and in a way it is the same for Russia,” Putin told reporters.
The bilateral dialogue on computer security will be the first between the US and Russia, as it has previously been repudiated by Washington.
Biden and Putin also grappled with a long list of mutual accusations, complaints, and charges, including Russian electoral manipulation in the US elections, US sanctions on Moscow, and Russian concern over NATO’s military expansion in Europe. Oriental.
Other difficulties in the relationship include the reversal of the arms control agreements and the war in Ukraine.
Biden traveled to the Swiss city after a week in Europe for G7, EU and NATO meetings. Responding to the threats posed by Russia was a topic discussed numerous times with Western leaders. The EU expressed concern in a working paper on Wednesday about the “negative spiral” in relations between Russia and the EU.
The US president said world leaders thanked him for scheduling the summit, which some analysts had criticized as giving Putin a diplomatic victory.
Biden said at the beginning of the meeting: “As I told you when I came in, it is always best to meet face-to-face to try to determine what mutual interests are and to cooperate on them; and where we do not have them, establish “predictable and rational” relationships. He added: “two great powers.”
Putin said that his ambassador would return to Washington, and that the US ambassador would return to Moscow after the talks.
The respective diplomats left their posts this year after a series of events unleashed when Biden, in a television interview, agreed to the journalist’s opinion, calling Putin a “murderer.”
Copyright – The Financial Times Limited 2021
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