“I think he’s, in the past, basically acknowledged that he was, there were certain things he would do or that he did,” he said. “But look, when I was asked this question on the air, I answered it honestly. I don’t think that matters much in terms of this next meeting that we’re about to have.
Biden used a late-night press conference on Monday to defend himself against criticism that he should not meet with Putin following a variety of ongoing assaults by Russian actors. Even his fellow Democratic lawmakers urged him to be tough on Putin.
But Biden said although the media criticized the timeline, he did not speak with a world leader during his trip to Europe who disagrees with the meeting.
“Every world leader here as a NATO member who spoke today, and most of them mentioned it, thanked me for meeting Putin now,” the president said. . “Everyone who has spoken. And I think there was probably a dozen or a dozen that talked about it, saying that they were glad I did it, that I was going to do it. And they thought it was totally appropriate for me to do that, and I had discussions with them openly about what they thought was important from their perspective.
Biden and Putin will meet in Switzerland on Wednesday before Biden gives his own press conference after the meeting. It comes three years after then-President Donald Trump met Putin in Helsinki, when he faced a firestorm for supporting the Russian leader’s denial of electoral interference unlike intelligence agencies. American.
Biden has invited Putin to meet, although it seems unlikely that this discussion will lead to immediate agreements. Still, the White House has said the president is keen to meet with Putin to pressure him directly on cyber attacks and human rights, as well as to talk about areas where they might have common ground, including gun control. nuclear power and climate change.
“I will make it clear to President Putin that there are areas in which we can cooperate, if he wishes,” Biden said on Monday. “And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts as he has in the past when it comes to cybersecurity and other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.
But he continued to face criticism that the meeting rewards Putin, who is accused of election interference, human rights violations and cyber attacks, and puts Russia on par with the United States.
“It’s not about trusting, it’s about agreeing,” Biden said. “When you write treatises with opponents, you don’t say, ‘I trust you’. You say, “This is what I’m waiting for. “
Biden declined to say what concessions he would ask Putin for, but he issued a warning against opposition figure Alexei Navalny. If Navalny died in prison, Biden said, it would hurt Russia’s relations with the United States and the rest of the world. Putin claimed he had no say in the matter.
“Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of respecting basic human rights,” Biden said. “It would be a tragedy. “
Putin, in an interview with NBC on Friday, said that Russia’s relations with the United States had “deteriorated to their lowest point” in recent years.
Biden said he agreed with Putin’s recent assessment that US-Russian relations.
“I think he’s right to say it’s a low point, and it depends on how he reacts to acting in accordance with international standards, which he hasn’t done in many cases,” he said. he declared.
Myah Ward reported from North Carolina.