Justin Bullock, FISM News
Following annual summits with the G7 nations and NATO, President Biden conducted a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Relations between the US and Russia have been strained for a number of years now due to Russia’s involvement in US elections, Ukraine, and, more recently, cybercrime. In response the US has initiated a number of sanctions against Russia. On Wednesday Biden and Putin met for the first time in order to discuss past, present, and future challenges.
This meeting was long anticipated due to the current relationship between Russia and the US and in comparison to the way former President Trump handled the relationship with Russia. Biden has repeatedly said that he has a different approach to diplomacy than Trump and tries to focus on the person when engaging in diplomacy. The press was ultimately not allowed in the meeting between Biden and Putin but White House staffers indicated later on that the meeting was short and civil but only marginally productive. They indicated that the meeting served as a basic introduction and an opportunity for the presidents and their staff to feel each other out.
Some moderate goals were accomplished in the form of re-establishing posted ambassadors between the two countries as well as the establishment of a joint taskforce to address cybercrime and attacks. However, Biden did not allow there to be a joint-press conference after the meeting due to the worry that such a public appearance would lend Putin greater international credibility. Instead Biden and Putin each had their own separate press conferences and released a written joint-statement.
In his press conference, Biden announced that he was “clear” on the concerns that America had with Russia and that the meeting was overall “positive.” However, Biden appeared to be apologetic for having to be critical of Russia’s stance on a variety of issues. “I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else; it’s for the American people,” adding that he could not “keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values.” Biden also was clearly defensive of his ability to be tough with foreign powers when snapped on a CNN reporter. He responded to a question regarding why Biden was so confident that Putin would change his behavior by waving a finger and barked,
When did I say I was confident? What I said was … what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world.”
“If you don’t understand that,” Biden tells a reporter pushing him to explain how it was a constructive meeting with Putin if he still denies human rights abuses and cyber attacks, “you’re in the wrong business.”
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) June 16, 2021
In Putin’s press conference, he indicated that President Biden had a different approach than that of former President Trump. However, when questioned by the press, Putin deflected and equivocated on the hot button issues related to Russia regarding Ukraine, human rights abuses, and cybercrime. Biden said that he tried to push Putin on these pressing issues but mostly received non-committal responses from Putin.
In any case, President Biden has finished his first whirlwind tour through Europe and is scheduled to be back home in the next few days.