U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Wednesday to hold arms control and cyber-security talks, recording small gains and big differences at a first summit they both described as pragmatic rather than friendly.
BIDEN: "I must tell you the tone of the entire meeting... was good, positive." PUTIN: "This was a productive meeting." Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin described their first in-person summit as a constructive one at separate news conferences on Wednesday, with the two leaders agreeing to return ambassadors to their posts in the near future and hold further talks about nuclear arms control and cybersecurity.
But deep divisions were evident on a range of issues at the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, where Putin denied Russia played a role in a spate of recent cyberattacks against the United States and where Biden hinted at retaliation if they didn't stop.
BIDEN: "I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability and he knows it.
He doesn't know exactly what it is, but it's significant.
And if, in fact, they violate these basic norms, we will respond." Biden also said he told Putin that certain U.S. critical infrastructure should be "off limits" to cyber-attacks.
Putin said Russia had been the target of numerous cyber-attacks originating from the U.S. Another sticking point was the issue of human rights.
In perhaps his strongest warning, Biden said there would be repercussions if jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was on hunger-strike to protest his detention in Russia, died in prison.
BIDEN: "I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia." Putin dismissed the concerns about Navalny, and suggested that the Jan.
6 rioters were being persecuted for "political opinions." PUTIN: "People went into U.S. Congress with political demands.
Four-hundred people are now facing criminal charges.
BIDEN: "I think that's a that's a ridiculous comparison." There was little compromise on a range of other issues, including Russia's increased military presence near Ukraine's border.
Biden said he also brought up the fate of U.S. citizens jailed in Russia.
Putin said he believed some compromises could be found, although he gave no indication of any deal for a prisoner exchange.