- President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet for four to five hours.
- Biden tried to lower expectations for the meeting. He doesn’t expect a lot of deliverables.
- Putin has met five US presidents since coming to power in 1999.
- Biden described Putin as “a worthy adversary”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he and President Joe Biden had agreed to dismiss their ambassadors to their posts in Washington and Moscow in the first sign of measures to ease tensions following the talks in Geneva.
After more than three hours of meetings between the two foreign leaders,Putin told reporters at a press conference that there was “no hostility” between the two delegations. He described the meetings as “constructive”.
For months, no high-ranking diplomat was stationed in either country, and it was unclear when their respective ambassadors would return. Putin also said that he and Biden had reached an agreement that the two countries would start cybersecurity negotiations following a recent wave of ransomware attacks in the United States. He did not specify.
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Asked about imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin said Navalny knew he was a wanted criminal in Russia “but nonetheless he came back and he deliberately wanted to be arrested.”
Navalny, one of Putin’s most ardent critics, was arrested in January on his arrival from Germany where he was treated for poisoning with a nerve agent. Russian authorities have denied being behind the attack. He was sentenced to two and a half years in February after a court ruled he violated the terms of a suspended prison sentence even though he was in a coma.
Asked about the imprisonment, death or poisoning of his opponents, Putin sought to draw comparisons between democracy activists in Russia and the rioters on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“People went to the US Congress with political demands. Now they are facing criminal charges. They are called local terrorists,” he said. “Everything that happens in our respective countries, one way or another, is the responsibility of the rulers themselves. You just have to look at the streets of America and every day there are murders. “
Biden and Putin were joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for the first session before splitting into a larger group including officials from both countries. The summit included a 45 minute break.
Biden is due to face reporters at a separate press conference before the US president concludes a week-long European trip that included meetings with the Group of 7, the European Union and NATO allies.
Biden opened the summit by describing the United States and Russia as “two great powers,” marking a promotion of Moscow’s status on the world stage as the two entered lengthy talks on various topics, including cyber attacks and human rights issues.
After about 90 minutes during the first round of talks that included the two countries’ top diplomats, Biden and Putin began an expanded bilateral meeting, which is expected to include members of each country’s delegation.
Biden noted that it was “always best to meet face to face” and Putin added that he hoped the meeting would be “productive.”
The United States has previously sought to avoid elevating Moscow’s global role. Former President Barack Obama only recognized Russia as a “regional power” after invading and annexing Crimea in 2014.
Swiss President Guy Parmelin made brief remarks welcoming the two leaders, before Biden and Putin shake hands, look at each other, smile at each other, then enter the 18th-century villa where their talks are taking place. Parmelin said he wished the leaders a “fruitful dialogue for the benefit of your two countries and the world.”
There were stampedes from the US and Russian traveling press as they scrambled to enter the villa and appeared to be restricted by Russian security.
Biden says Putin is “a worthy opponent”
Biden has sought to lower expectations for the high-stakes meeting, but earlier this week he told reporters he plans to take a tough stance on issues such as a recent spate of cyber attacks and muggings. Russians in Ukraine, but also to find areas of mutual interest where they could cooperate.
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The president “doesn’t expect a lot of deliverables from this meeting,” the administration official said.
“I met him. He’s brilliant, he’s tough, and I’ve discovered that he is, as they say when we play ball, a worthy opponent,” Biden told Putin reporters at a Monday evening press conference.
Putin has met five US presidents since coming to power in 1999.
The summit with Biden took place at Villa La Grange, a beautiful 18th century villa that overlooks Lake Geneva. Biden and Putin meet 36 years after former President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev held talks at a separate, well-appointed villa in Geneva as Washington and Moscow sought a thaw in their relations.
Summit follows G-7 and NATO meetings
The US president spent the days leading up to the summit meeting with dozens of foreign leaders at the Group of Seven and NATO meetings in Britain and Brussels, Belgium, as he sought to restore relations diplomatic relations unraveled by the nationalist policies of his predecessor.
He told reporters that his foreign counterparts appreciated that he chose to meet Putin so quickly despite criticism of his summit schedule.
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“All the world leaders here as a NATO member who spoke today, and most of them mentioned it, thanked me for meeting Putin now,” he said. -he declares. “And they thought it was very appropriate for me to do that, and I had discussions with them openly about what they thought was important from their point of view.”
Biden’s meeting is expected to mark a stark contrast to Putin’s last meeting with a US president. Former President Donald Trump sparked controversy when he defended Russia against allegations of interference in the 2016 elections at their meeting in Helsinki in July 2019. Unlike that meeting, Putin and Biden plan to hold talks separate press conferences following the talks.
Ahead of the talks, Putin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the diplomatic meeting was unlikely to produce any breakthrough.
“We have many long neglected issues that need to be addressed. That is why President Putin arrives with the attitude of asking the questions frankly and constructively and trying to find solutions,” Peskov said. “However, the fact that the two presidents have agreed to meet and finally start talking openly about the issues is already an achievement.”
Washington and Moscow have recalled their respective ambassadors amid heightened tensions. The presence of US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan and Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov in Geneva could signal “that they are returning to work in their embassies,” said Michael McFaul, Russian expert and former US ambassador to the United States. Russia, in a statement. Twitter feed Wednesday.
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