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Biden on Putin Summit: 'I Did What I Came to Do'

He says no threats were made, 'just simple assertions'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2021 1:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Biden spoke to the media after meeting Vladimir Putin in Geneva Wednesday—and he said he had assured the Russian leader that his agenda "is not against Russia or anybody else. It's for the American people." Putin, who held the first press conference, said Biden was "very different from Trump." Highlights from Biden's conference:

  • "Human rights will always be on the table." Biden said he had raised human rights issues including Alexei Navalny and the cases of Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, two former Marines now in Russian prisons, the Guardian reports. "Human rights will always be on the table," Biden said.

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  • Action on cyberattacks. Biden said he agreed with Putin to have more discussions on cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks, the AP reports. He said 16 kinds of critical infrastructure, including energy and water systems, should be considered off-limits to cyberattacks "period." "I pointed out, if they violate basic norms, we will respond,” Biden said.
  • "I did what I came to do." Biden described the overall tone of the summit as "positive" and said much was achieved, the Guardian reports. "I did what I came to do," he said.
  • "Devastating" consequences if Navalny dies. Biden told reporters that Russia is "desperately trying to maintain its standing" as a major world power and losing this status would be among the consequences Moscow could face it if continues to interfere in elections—or if Navalny dies in prison. "I made it clear to him the consequences would be devastating," Biden said.
  • "There were no threats." Biden said no "threats" were made during the summit, "just simple assertions made." He said the coming months will be a test of whether progress can be made. "It was ... somewhat colloquial, and we talked about basic, basic fundamental things," he said, per CNN. "I think the last thing he wants now is a cold war," he said of Putin.
  • Capitol comparison "ridiculous." Biden said Putin's comparison of Russia's jailing—or worse—of political opponents to charges against Capitol rioters was "ridiculous."
  • "This isn't about trust." ABC reports that when Biden was asked if he thought he could now trust Putin, he said the summit wasn't about trust. "This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest," he said. Biden put his sunglasses on and started walking away from the podium after a reporter asked he if had reconsidered his 2011 remarks that Putin has no soul, the Guardian reports.
  • One last exchange. Biden had a testy exchange with reporters after walking away from the podium, the BBC notes. He told a reporter that his remarks did not mean that he was confident Putin would change his behavior. "If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business," he said when asked by CNN's Kaitlin Collins how he could consider the summit a success when Putin came out of it still denying responsibility for cyberattacks and other actions.
  • An apology. The AP reports that Biden tried to make peace with reporters before boarding Air Force One. "I shouldn't have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave," he said, expressing regret for being "short" with Collins.
(Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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