President Biden On Meeting With Vladimir Putin: 'I Did What I Came To Do'

By Bill Galluccio

June 16, 2021

SWITZERLAND-US-RUSSIA-SUMMIT-DIPLOMACY
Photo: Getty Images

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held separate press conferences following their one-on-one meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday (June 16). It was the first time the leaders have met since Biden took office.

Biden said he discussed a variety of topics with Putin during the meeting, which was shorter than anticipated. Biden said it was important for him to meet Putin in person and told reporters, "I did what I came to do."

"It was important to meet in person so there could be no mistake about or misrepresentations about what I wanted to communicate. I did what I came to do," Biden said.

President Biden explained that both he and Putin understand that they "share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries, a relationship that has to be stable and predictable."

"Where we have differences, I want President Putin to understand why I say what I say, and why I do what I do, and how we'll respond to different actions that harm America's interests. I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anybody else. It's for the American people," Biden said.

President Biden said he brought up the recent cyber attacks targeting U.S. companies, including JBS and Colonial Pipeline, and told Putin the U.S. would take action if the attacks continue.

"He knows there are consequences," Biden said. "He knows I will take action."

Biden told reporters he told Putin that attacks on critical infrastructure should be considered off-limits and that both men agreed that they would crack down criminals responsible for the attacks.

"I gave them a list... 16 specific entities, 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems. Of course, the principle is one thing. It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals that conduct ransomware activities on their territory. So, we agreed to task experts in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what is off-limits and to follow-up on specific cases that originate in other countries, and that's either of our countries," Biden said.

Biden said that he also brought up allegations of human rights violations and told Putin that "human rights is always going to be on the table."

"I pointed out to him that's why we are going to raise our concerns about cases, like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin and will continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights because that's what we are. That's who we are," Biden said.

While Biden and Putin both expressed their disagreements with each other, Biden described the meeting as "positive."

"There wasn't any strident action taken, where we disagreed, I disagreed, I stated what it was. Where he disagreed, he stated, but it was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere. There's been too much of that going on," Biden said.

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