Wednesday’s talks were the first meeting between the two since Biden took office in January and lasted for several hours.
Prior to the summit, expectations for substantial breakthroughs were low, with both Moscow and Washington blatantly cold on the prospect of significant progress. The pair are currently at odds on a range of issues ranging from arms control and cyber hacking to election interference and Ukraine.
After the summit, Putin said there was “no hostility” at the “constructive” summit and Biden called the talks “positive” as the two leaders held separate press conferences.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Putin admitted that Biden raised human rights concerns with him, including the fate of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the treatment of protesters in Russia. Without naming him, Putin defended Navalny’s prison sentence.
Reporting from Geneva, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett said Putin deflected the questions and instead tried to focus on domestic unrest in the United States, citing the Black Lives Matter protests and the storming of the Capitol. in Washington, DC.
“He really defended his behavior and seemed to deflect and deflect criticism from the West on the crackdown on democratic freedoms and protesters and said the United States was not in a position to criticize,” he said. she declared.
Biden then dismissed Putin’s criticisms of human rights in the United States.
“It’s a ridiculous comparison,” he told reporters. “It is one thing for criminals to break a cordon, to enter the Capitol, to kill a police officer and to be held accountable, than for the people who oppose, to walk on the Capitol and say that you do not allow me to speak freely.
Putin also said that Moscow and Washington would start talks on possible changes to the New START arms control treaty after it expires in 2026, adding that the two countries are responsible for nuclear strategic stability.
Signed in 2010, the new START treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.
Putin also said that Russia had provided comprehensive information to the United States on cyber attacks and that the two sides had agreed to launch “consultations on cybersecurity”.
Biden said the two sides have agreed to continue discussions on keeping certain types of critical infrastructure out of the reach of cyber attacks. Biden also said they will have further talks on prosecuting criminals carrying out ransomware attacks.
The US president told reporters that 16 types of critical infrastructure should be banned from cyber attacks, “period.” He said that includes the energy and water sector.
It comes after a ransomware attack in May against one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States forced the shutdown of fuel supplies to much of the East Coast for nearly a week. This attack was blamed on a Russian criminal group. Russia has not cooperated in criminal ransomware investigations and is not extraditing suspects to the United States.
Regarding Ukraine’s potential NATO membership, the Russian leader said there was nothing substantial to discuss. He also accused Kiev of violating an agreement aimed at ending a conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“The meeting was actually very efficient,” Putin said. “It was substantial, it was specific. He was about getting results, and one of them was pushing the boundaries of trust. “