Following a closed-door meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden said that his agenda isn’t designed to go “against Russia” but said he’s attempting to promote the interests of “the American people.”
The two leaders met for about three and a half hours in Geneva, Switzerland, after both acknowledged that U.S.-Russia relations are at their lowest point in decades.
“I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia, or anyone else, it’s for the American people. Fighting COVID-19, rebuilding our economy, re-establishing relationships around the world,” Biden said at a news conference, adding that Russia and the United States need “stable and predictable” ties.
When asked about the conduct of the meeting, Biden said that “there were no threats” lodged by either world leader. “We need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by,” Biden remarked, but he added that the “last thing” Putin wants is a new Cold War.
Issues that were discussed, according to Biden, included cyberattacks, human rights, and alleged election interference, among other topics. In recent weeks, federal officials have claimed that Russia-based hackers were responsible for several high-profile breaches, including ransomware hacks targeting the Colonial Pipeline system and JBS Foods.
Biden stressed that he told Putin that cyberattacks or attacks by “any other means” against critical infrastructure, such as the pipeline breach, need to be “off-limits” moving forward. During an announcement last month, Biden said that Russia-based hackers were likely responsible for the pipeline attack, but he said U.S. intelligence officials didn’t link the group to the Kremlin.
The president on Wednesday didn’t elaborate on the potential consequences if hackers again target critical infrastructure systems within the United States. The administration earlier this year slapped sanctions against Russian financial institutions over the SolarWinds breach that affected several federal agencies and, according to the White House, alleged election interference during the 2020 election.
Putin said in a press conference Wednesday that Russia and the United States have agreed to restart talks on curbing cyberattacks while shifting some of the blame against Washington.
“And the question of who, to what degree, needs to take on responsibility, that should be resolved during the negotiation process,” Putin said
And during an NBC interview last week, the Russian leader denied that Moscow had anything to do with cyberattacks or had interfered in the U.S. election and claimed those allegations were part of a pattern of American politicians using Russia as a scapegoat.
“We have been accused of all kinds of things,” Putin said on June 14. “Election interference, cyberattacks, and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.”
Biden also touched on the situation involving Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is being detained in a Russian jail in which Western powers said is a violation of his human rights. The president said that if Navalny—who has long accused Putin of corruption—dies, the United States would retaliate and said the consequences would be “devastating for Russia.”
But Navalny, Putin said, had ignored the law and knew that he would be arrested if he returned back to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment from an alleged poisoning attempt. He said that Ukraine also broke its ceasefire agreement with pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine amid a massive military buildup along the eastern border.
From The Epoch Times