Biden: "I did what I came to do" in talks with Putin
Europe;Geneva, Switzerland
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

In a press conference following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Joe Biden said he saw a "glimpse of hope" regarding mutual trust between the two nations, though he could not predict whether relations would improve. Biden said that at his meeting with Putin in Geneva, he told Putin that the two countries "need some basic rules of the road we can all abide by", adding, "I did what I came to do."

Biden on Putin

Biden said, "I think the last thing he [Putin] wants right now is a cold war." Biden added, "He's still concerned we are trying to encircle him, he is still concerned we are trying to take him down, but I don't think that's what's motivating him."

On his priorities in meeting Putin

U.S. President Biden said in his meeting with Russian President Putin, "My agenda isn't against Russia, it's for the American people." Biden also said it was important to meet Putin in person so there would be no mistake about the issues Biden considers crucial. These issues included strategic stability and arms measures to reduce the prospect of “accidental war” between the two nations and improve cyber security.

On elections and alleged election interference

When asked about alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections, Biden said Putin knows "there are consequences". Biden also said he thinks it's a “ridiculous comparison” for Putin to say the U.S. Capitol attackers are similar to protesters in Russia. Russia had said that if there were no crackdowns on the opposition protesters, Russia would see a scenario similar to the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

On U.S. sanctions against Russia

When asked about sanctions, Biden said, "I don't have any problem doing business with Russia, as long as they follow international norms."

On foreign policy

Biden said he and Putin shared a mutual interest in making sure Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Biden also raised issues regarding imprisoned Putin critic Alexei Navalny, the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan, and maintaining humanitarian corridors in Syria. 

He said Putin agreed to, "help on Afghanistan, and help on Iran, and bring physical security to the people of Syria and Libya." Biden also said he talked about Ukraine and Belarus with Putin. He said both sides agreed to “pursue diplomacy” on Ukraine. Biden said Putin agreed with him on what happened in Belarus, but had a different perspective about what to do about it.

On China

When asked a question about how Biden and Putin addressed China in their summit, Biden did not answer the question directly. He said China is “trying very hard” to project a good image of helping the world fight the pandemic, but it’s the result that matters. 

Biden questioned if China is “trying to get to the bottom of this.” He then talked about building a “physical mechanism” for the world to detect the next virus and respond. 

Earlier, China urged to the U.S. to deal with the virus in a responsible manner, take actions for its promises, and share the COVID-19 vaccines with the world. China also said it had provided the world over 350 million vaccines, but while the U.S. had pledged to donate 500 million doses, very few of those had been delivered.

Closing remark

At the end of Biden's press conference, CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked why Biden kept saying he’s “confident” about changing Putin’s mind and had a “constructive” summit with Putin, when almost no consensus was reached. Biden responded, "You are in the wrong business". 

Biden subsequently stopped before boarding Air Force One to apologize to Collins for being a "wise guy".  Collins said it was "completely unnecessary" but appreciated Biden's apology. She says she was just doing her job.

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