GENEVA — The much-awaited summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, lasted roughly four hours.
Both presidents were appearing solo at press conferences. U.S. president, where he announced that he and Biden had reached an agreement to return the ambassadors of both nations to their respective posts.
The Russian leader said that he did not feel there was “any kind of hostility” during the meeting, calling the session “constructive.”
Putin also said that the U.S. and Russia had agreed to “start negotiations” on cybersecurity, but claimed that most attacks originated from the West rather than Russia. He also deflected questions about political rival Alexei Navalny and human rights abuses, bringing up gun violence in the U.S. and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
JUNE 16, 202101:19
The meeting ended slightly sooner than White House officials had suggested it would, and consisted of one continuous session rather than the two that had been originally planned. Both men were expected to leave for their respective home countries Wednesday evening.
Biden and Putin were joined in the first meeting by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, along with translators. The meeting lasted around an hour and a half. The leaders are now meeting with a larger group of officials, which could last much longer.
Putin, who arrived at the summit site first, and Biden shook hands and exchanged a few brief words while posing for a photo on the red carpet outside the main entrance before the meeting began. As expected, neither gave remarks, and the two leaders did not respond to shouted questions from reporters. Following the greeting, the two disappeared inside, double doors closing behind them.
They then posed for another photo inside the meeting room before they started their discussion. Biden and Putin were seated adjacent to each other in a library, a globe between them in the background, with Biden flanked by his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and Putin joined by his foreign minister. Each leader made brief remarks, with Putin appearing sullen and frequently looking down.
“There are many issues in Russian-American relations that have accumulated and need to be discussed at the highest level,” Putin said. “And I hope that our meeting will be productive.”
Biden, sitting cross-legged and smiling several times at reporters, told Putin that he believes it is best when leaders can meet face to face. They then sat silently for several moments while photographers jockeyed for a shot and reporters shouted questions that went unanswered.
Security around Villa La Grange, the picturesque mansion and lakeside park where the summit is taking place, had been extremely tight. The park was blocked off by thick rolls of barbed-wire fencing with Swiss police patrolling the grounds. A large section of the city had been closed off with police boats dotting the crisp waters of Lake Geneva, in a city known for its neutrality and international cooperation.