On Wednesday Jun 16th, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at their first ever summit in Geneva. Both leaders sought to cool tensions in the volatile US-Russian relationship. Biden said a new Cold War is not what his Russian counterpart wants.
After more than three hours of talks, the two leaders emerged cautiously positive. This includes two hours alone with just the US Secretary of state and Russian Foreign Minister present.
Putin told reporters “The conversation was absolutely constructive.”
US-Russia diplomatic relations resume
In an apparent gesture of healing, both sides agreed to resuming diplomatic relationships. Therefore, the US and Russian ambassadors will resume their posts in Russia and the US respectively.
The session took place in an elegant villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. The US President described it in a single word, “good”.
Biden’s meeting with Putin ends off a gruelling first diplomatic tour of Europe, since taking office.
Mutual collaboration discussed
The US president said he and Putin discussed mutual collaboration. This included working together on areas where they have rivalling interests, including Iran, Syria and the Arctic.
In a press conference, Biden told reporters that on the world stage, the two biggest nuclear powers “share a unique responsibility”.
The Kremlin received a strong warning from Biden against any cyberattacks on 16 clearly defined areas of US critical infrastructure.
The 16 unnamed areas “should be off limits”. Biden warned that violations would lead to a “cyber” response by the United States.
Moscow faces accusations from Washington of conducting the SolarWinds cyberattack on US entities, and also harbouring cyber ransomware gangs.
Russian attempts to disrupt presidential elections
Also, Russian agencies are alleged to have conducted dirty tricks campaigns as attempts to disrupt the last two presidential elections. This is according to information from US intelligence sources.
Biden said Putin knows his limits after Washington and Moscow spent decades in a nuclear standoff before the Soviet Union finally collapsed. As a result, it is it unlikely the world will witness a repeat of the 20th century’s Cold War.
The US President said of Putin, “I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War.“
A broken US-Russian relationship
Since Biden’s entry into the White House in January, diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington had all but broken down.
In March, Russia took the rare step of recalling its ambassador Anatoly Antonov. This followed Biden describing the Russian President being likened to a “killer”. Consequently, the US ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, returned to Washington.
The disagreements still remain till now. However, the two leaders shook hands for the cameras, indicating a good start for the summit.
Criticism over Putin’s human rights record was duly rejected by him. After this, the Russian President rejected allegations of harbouring cyber criminals.
The largest number of cyberattacks in the world according to Putin, are carried out from the US.
On criticism of his treatment of political opponents, Putin said the US has bigger problems. Many high-profile critics have died in Russia under Putin’s rule, and there is a news blackout on their deaths.
Putin’s argument was simply called “ridiculous” by Biden.
Offering a more understanding US-Russian relationship, leans toward what Putin reportedly seeks, i.e., gaining more respect in the international arena.
By referring to the United States and Russia as two great powers”, Biden is attempting to please the Russian leader. Russia has been under Putin’s rule for two decades now. Putin has invaded Georgia and Ukraine and rules the country with an iron fist.
A tweet by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in Washington said, “It is clear to me that Putin could care less about how he’s viewed by others”.
17th June 2021 23:00
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