Geopolitics

Biden and Putin in "constructive" consultations agree on updating nuclear pact

capdevielle U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.
capdevielle U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS - KEVIN LAMARQUE

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a “constructive” summit Wednesday to return their nations' ambassadors to their posts and begin negotiations to replace the last remaining treaty between the two countries limiting nuclear weapons.

Advertising

Putin said there was “no hostility” during the talks that wrapped up more quickly than expected. 

The two sides had said they expected to meet for four to five hours but spent less than three hours together, including an opening meeting with just the two presidents and each one's top foreign aide.

When it was over, Putin had first crack at describing the results at a solo news conference, with Biden to follow with his own session with reporters.

Putin acknowledged that Biden raised human rights issues with him, including the fate of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Putin defended Navalny’s prison sentence and deflected repeated questions about mistreatment of Russian opposition leaders by highlighting U.S. domestic turmoil, including the Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Respect

Putin held forth for nearly an hour before international reporters. While showing defiance at queries about Biden pressing him on human rights, he also expressed a significant measure of respect for Biden as an experienced political leader.

Biden, in a separate press conference after the meeting, told reporters that he agreed with Putin to further discussions on keeping certain types of critical infrastructure off-limits to cyberattacks.

Biden also said they will have additional talks on the pursuit of criminals carrying out ransomware attacks.

He also indicated that the two leaders discussed in detail the “next steps our countries should take on arms control measures” to reduce the risk of war.

Putin, on his part, said that “the meeting was actually very efficient. It was substantive, it was specific. It was aimed at achieving results, and one of them was pushing back the frontiers of trust.” 

New START treaty

Putin said he and Biden agreed to begin negotiations on nuclear talks to potentially replace the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026.

Washington broke off talks with Moscow in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Talks resumed in 2017 but gained little traction and failed to produce an agreement on extending the New START treaty during the Trump administration.

(With AP)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning