Vladimir Putin gave the first press conference following his talks with President Biden, and it stretched nearly an hour. Highlights:
- He was asked about which topics were discussed in detail, and he said Ukraine was not one of them.
- The Guardian reports Putin said he and Biden agreed their ambassadors—the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, and the US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan—will resume their posts and diplomatic duties. The two have for months been at home in their respective countries over friction.
- CNN asked if the tone of the meeting was hostile or friendly, and whether Russia committed to stopping cyberattacks on US. Per CNN's translation, Putin said, "I don't think there was any kind of hostility ... I think many of our positions are divergent but ... I think it was very constructive."
- On the cybersecurity front, he said both sides agreed to begin negotiations on the issue. The BBC reports Putin said Russia has "provided exhaustive information" to the US regarding alleged cyber attacks and has received no response.
- When asked about Alexei Navalny, Putin declined to speak his name, but said, "This person knew that he violated the law that exists in Russia and he is a repeated offender. He knew full well that he was wanted but nevertheless he came back to Russia and he deliberately wanted to be arrested. He did what he wanted to do."
- A question from an ABC News reporter seemed to irk Putin. She asked: "If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison, poisoned ... Doesn’t that send the message that you don’t want a political fight?" In response he cited the Jan. 6 riot, saying the people who went to the US Capitol "were threatened with imprisonment for 20-25 years ... On what grounds, we don’t always know ... We sympathize what is happening in the States but we don’t wish that to happen in Russia."
- When asked about human rights, Putin pushed back, citing US gun violence and its operation of Guantanamo Bay. The Guardian reports the Biden has in the past called Putin a "killer." When talking about shooting deaths in the US, Putin asked, "Who is the killer?" He said, "Look at the streets of America and every single day there are killings. You don’t have time to open your mouth and you are shot dead."
- Regarding the Arctic, Putin said any US concerns related to it are baseless, and that while Russia is rebuilding Soviet-era infrastructure there, it intends to follow international laws regarding the northern sea route.
- Putin characterized the talks as "efficient, substantive, specific, and aimed at achieving results."
- Putin issued what the BBC terms "a rare compliment," calling Biden an "experienced statesman" and saying that they had detailed discussions for two hours, which he would not be able to do with most politicians. "He is very different from President Trump," Putin said.
- He said he was offered no invitation to the White House and extended no invite to Biden, and that the "right conditions" would be needed to get to that stage.
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