A historic meeting between President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin ended after a three-hour closed door exchange on Wednesday.
The two shook hands and exchanged pleasantries before immediately starting the summit on the world stage in Geneva. Their series of talks were split into two rounds, a smaller session face-to-face and the second with a larger delegation, according to reports. A shorter meeting than expected, but nonetheless “productive” according to people with knowledge of the conversation between the presidents. Biden called for “basic rules of the road” as the condition for future talks with Putin.
The first round of talks – which included Biden, Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – lasted almost two hours, officials said.
Media scrum before both Presidents took the podium
The group of journalists covering the event in Geneva appeared to get into a scuffle while entering the villa area that staged both Biden and Putin. Media members from both countries pushed and shoved each other trying to get to the front of the room. Both groups were stopped by American and Russian government security officials before it got out of hand.
White House officials noted they repeatedly tried to get every member of the 13-person press pool inside, following the numbers agreed upon by both countries. However, only nine of the 13 were granted access into the room. Officials later learned that both Biden and Putin started their joint press conference without the media. Both leaders were aware of the scuffle between the journalist and watched it play out in front of them, according to several reports.
An agreement between the two countries for representation
Putin said in his press conference that U.S. and Russia have agreed to return each country’s ambassadors to their assignments, following an ousting from the others respective countries that has lasted months.
Biden took swift action including sanctions against Russia after rounds of cyberattacks launched against the U.S. at the direction of Putin’s government officials. The most notable attack was done through SolarWinds software aimed at spying on top tech companies and U.S. government entities.
Putin described Biden as “experienced” and says he’s “different” from Trump. The former president’s summit in 2018 with Putin included a meeting accompanied only by interpreters, but no solo talks.
The questions after the meeting that will make headlines
Biden was pressed on Putin’s actions while walking away from the podium and stop to respond. He said he was “not confident” the Kremlin will change their behavior, but “what will change their behavior is that the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in their world. I’m not confident of anything.”
ABC reporter Rachel Scott asked Putin about his political opponents and “what he was afraid of?” The response was delayed but the Russian president dodged the question for the most part and even brought up the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Black Lives Matter. Putin said he doesn’t want to see the actions of January 6th happening in Russia.
Biden responds to the question that Putin was asked about human rights. He also makes reference to the attack on the Capital and how rioters killed a police officer.
Biden also talked about the relationship between the countries going forward. He even said Putin left the meeting by mentioning the President’s family. The two said there was “no threats” exchanged and it was kept cordial on both sides.
Biden will stay overseas before returning to the U.S. next week. This was the first meeting with Russian officials since Biden took office
The two agreed on future talks to address nuclear arms and cybersecurity. However, Putin made clear no agreement on other issues between the U.S. and Russia.