Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting


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By Kathryn Watson, Tucker Reals, Melissa Quinn and Caroline Linton

/ CBS NEWS

CBSN Live

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Wednesday for the first time since Mr. Biden took office, at a summit in Geneva that the Russian president described as "constructive," while Mr. Biden said he "did what I came to do."

Both leaders addressed reporters in separate news conferences after the roughly three hours of meetings that included discussions of cybersecurity and arms control, among other topics. The two leaders released a joint statement after their respective news conferences affirming that "even during periods of tension," they can make progress on "ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war."

Biden told reporters that Putin "knows I will take action" in working to stop Russia from engaging in malign activities like interfering in U.S. elections, engaging in hacking attacks, like those targeting  SolarWinds and ransomware attacks on U.S. companies. Mr. Biden added Putin "knows there are consequences" and said Russia's credibility "shrinks" when it participates in cyberattacks.

Still, when pressed by reporters on whether he was confident Putin would change his behavior, Mr. Biden said "I'm not confident of anything." 

The president also said Putin knew there would be consequences if jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny dies. 

Putin, meanwhile, at his press conference, did not address Navalny by name, but said Navalny had deliberately broken the law and wanted to be arrested when he returned to Russia after receiving treatment in Germany for his near-fatal poisoning. Navalny, the U.S. and western countries blame his poisoning on Russia. 

The Russian president skirted the topic of Ukraine after NATO affirmed Ukraine's sovereignty at its recent meeting in Brussels. 

Addressing reporters on the tarmac before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Biden apologized for losing his temper with CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins, saying he was being a "wise guy." Mr. Biden said his first foreign trip showed "America is back" and said he owes world leaders a ""debt of gratitude" for backing him in Putin talks. 

Mr. Biden told reporters there is a value in being both "realistic" and putting on a "optimistic face" after telling reporters they only ask negative questions. "I started working on arms agreements going back to the Cold War. If we could do one during the Cold War, we could do one now," Mr. Biden said.

Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
 
Biden-Putin summit wraps in Geneva 16:37

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meeting since Mr. Biden took office. The highly anticipated discussions in Geneva finished in under three hours. CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini, CBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis and Timothy Frye, author of "Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia" and a professor of post-Soviet foreign policy at Columbia University, joined CBSN to discuss the historic summit.

 

Mr. Biden told reporters that he had presented Putin with a list of 16 critical infrastructure entities that should be off-limits to cyberattacks. A White House official confirmed to CBS News' Ed O'Keefe  that this list is the list provided by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Those 16 sectors are: Chemical; commercial facilities; communication; critical manufacturing; dams; defense industrial base; emergency services; energy; financial services; food and agriculture; government facilities; healthcare and public health; information technology; nuclear reactors, materials and waste; transportation systems and water and waste management systems. 

CISA has more information on these 16 sectors here.

 
Breaking down the Biden-Putin summit 23:33

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed topics ranging from climate change and human rights to allegations of election meddling and hacking during their historic meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini, CBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis, CBSN tech reporter Dan Patterson and Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, spoke to CBSN's Tanya Rivero about what came out of the meeting.

 

Before Mr. Biden boarded Air Force One en route to the U.S., he apologized for being a "wise guy" to CNN's Kaitlan Collins over a question she lobbed about Putin. Social media had quickly picked up on clips of the exchange. 

"I owe my last questioner an apology," the president said.

The president boarded Air Force One at 8:33 p.m., en route for Joint Base Andrews. 

 

As Mr. Biden wrapped up his day in Geneva, the White House released the Joint U.S.-Russia statement on strategic stability: 

"We, President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, note the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war," the presidents wrote. 

"The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures."

Mr. Biden said during his press conference it will take time to determine whether that strategic dialogue is working. 

 

Mr. Biden took questions from reporters for roughly 33 minutes, with his press conference capping his first international trip as president.

As he walked away from the lectern and exited the stage, he stopped to field a couple more shouted questions from reporters, including one on China's role in the COVID-19 pandemic, another on Americans detained in Russia and finally, whether he has confidence Putin will change his behavior.

"I'm not confident he'll change his behavior," Mr. Biden said. "I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world."

The president is now poised to depart Geneva for Washington.

 

President Biden was asked again whether he trusts Putin. 

"This isn't about trust," he said. "This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest." 

Earlier in the day, there was confusion when Mr. Biden had appeared to nod his head in response to a reporter's question about whether he trusts Putin. The White House later said the president was merely nodding to acknowledge the press. 

 

Mr. Biden rejected Putin's comments during his press conference likening jailed and murdered political opponents to those arrested at the U.S. Capitol for their roles in the January 6 insurrection, calling it a "ridiculous comparison."

"It's one thing for literally criminals to break through cordons, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer and be held unaccountable than it is for people objecting, marching on the Capitol and saying you are not allowing me to speak freely, you are not allowing me to do A, B, C, D," the president said. "They're very different criteria."

More than 460 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack.

 

President Biden said he told Putin that if political activist and opposition leader Alexey Navalny dies, "the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia." 

He did not say what those consequences would be, and in public remarks has been vague about what actions the U.S. would take in the event of Navalny's death, or what it would do in response to further cyber attacks assessed to have been undertaken by Russian state actors.

Putin has said he cannot guarantee Navalny will make it out of prison alive. 

 

Mr. Biden said he ensured that Putin "knows I will take action" in working to stop Russia from engaging in malign activities like interference in U.S. elections, the sweeping hack of SolarWinds and ransomware attacks on U.S. companies.

"He knows there are consequences," the president said. He added that in addition to action from the U.S., Putin's "credibility worldwide shrinks" as a consequence for such cyber activity.

Mr. Biden also said such action by Russia or groups linked to Russia "diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power."

 
Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

Mr. Biden, who declined to share his goals for the meeting ahead of time, said his desired outcome for the meeting was "to discuss and raise the issue of strategic stability" and how to take steps forward. 

The U.S. and Russia will launch a bilateral strategic dialogue on issues like arms control, Mr. Biden said. They also discussed cybersecurity. 

"I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack, period," Mr. Biden said, adding that he gave Russian officials a list of 16 specific entities and sectors that are off-limit for cyber attacks. 

Mr. Biden described his goals for the meeting as threefold — to identify areas of practical work together; to communicate directly that the U.S. will respond to actions that imperil U.S. interests or U.S. allies; and lay out the United States' priorities and values. 

"I did what I came to do," said the president. He described the meeting's tone as "good" and "positive." 

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

Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Watson    

 

A White House official said Mr. Biden gave Putin a crystal sculpture of an American bison, made by Steuben Glass of New York, "a stately interpretation of one of our nation's most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, resilience."

The sculpture will be presented on a cherry wood base, which is symbolic of President George Washington, with an custom engraved inscription plaque commemorating the meeting between Mr. Biden and Putin, the White House said. The American bison was named the national mammal of the U.S. in 2016.

The president also gave his Russian counterpart a pair of custom aviators made by Randolph USA. The company produced the HGU-4/P Aviator for fighter pilots in 1978 and in the years since has provided the U.S. military and NATO partners with aviators, which are made in Massachusetts, the White House official said.

Mr. Biden is known for wearing aviator sunglasses.

 

President Biden kicked off his solo press conference by describing some of the things he told Putin. 

"I know there was a lot of hype around this meeting, but it's pretty straightforward to me, the meeting," he said.

Mr. Biden said he and Putin "share a unique responsibility, to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries. A relationship that has to be stable and predictable."

Mr. Biden said he told Putin his agenda is "not against Russia or against anyone else," but "for the American people."

Mr. Biden said he "made it clear" that he will continue to raise human rights issues, like the cases of Alexey Navalny, and Americans Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan.  

"Human rights is always going to be on the table, I told him," Mr. Biden said. 

 

Putin ended his press conference after roughly an hour, taking questions from both Russian and foreign press.

Mr. Biden's solo press conference is expected momentarily. 

Watch the full press conference in the player below:

Putin speaks after Biden meeting 54:22
 

Putin told reporters through an interpreter that Mr. Biden did not extend an invitation for him to visit the White House and said "no invitation was given." Such visits, he said, need to take place under the "proper conditions."

Putin called Mr. Biden "very constructive, a very balanced professional man," and the relationship with the president "pragmatic."

"He's very experienced, you can tell that at first glance," Putin said of Mr. Biden.

The Russian president recalled Mr. Biden talked about his mother and said the comments about the president's family "shows the extent of his moral values."

"It seems to me that we did speak the same language," Putin said. "It certainly doesn't imply that we looked into each other's eyes and found a soul or swore eternal friendship."

In 2001, then-President Bush said after meeting Putin in Slovenia that he had looked Putin in the eye and he "found him to be very straight-forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue."

"I was able to get a sense of his soul," Mr. Bush said then.

 

Putin compared the imprisonment and murders of opponents under his regime to the arrests of U.S. rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6.

An ABC News journalist asked Putin why he suppresses his political dissidents and opponents, and why he fears them. Putin responded that the Capitol rioters came to Congress with political demands and ended up facing prison sentences, and are being called domestic terrorists.

"It's unclear on what grounds," the autocrat said, despite clear charges laid out by U.S. prosecutors. 

Putin continued to try to turn back to the U.S., blasting the Black Lives Matter movement and claiming the U.S. allows disorder and destruction in its own country. Putin said Russia feels sympathy, but he doesn't want outbursts in Russia. 

Putin is known for displays of whataboutism, and for trying to equate the human rights abuses of his regime with what happens in democracies. 

 

Putin tried to avoid questions on Ukraine and on Russia's crackdown on opposition groups by claiming he couldn't hear them. 

The Russian president did say the topic of Ukraine and its NATO aspirations came up and "remains to be discussed. He said Russia will abide by the Minsk Agreement, a framework for ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine. However, the conflict there continues. 

NATO reaffirmed Ukraine's sovereignty at its recent meeting in Brussels but has not yet accepted it as a member nation. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and President Biden each indicated that Ukraine still needs to do more to fight corruption. 

 

Asked about jailed Kremlin opponent Alexey Navalny, who was poisoned last year with the Societ-era nerve agent Novichok, Putin claimed Navalny deliberately broke the law and wanted to be arrested when he returned to Russia after receiving treatment in Germany for the near-fatal poisoning. 

Navalny, Putin alleged through a translator, "did what he wanted to do" when he decided to return to Moscow in January. The Russian president said the opposition leader "deliberately wanted to be arrested."

Putin never identified Navalny by his name when addressing the question from a reporter from CNN, instead calling Navalny "this man."

The White House and Navalny himself blame the Kremlin for Navalny's poisoning. Putin has denied ordering the hit on the opposition leader.

 
Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures as he holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS

In his press conference, Putin characterized the tone of his meeting with Mr. Biden as "quite constructive" and said the U.S. and Russia are seeking "common ground." 

"I don't think there was any kind of hostility," he said, through a translator. 

But Putin didn't address head-on concerns that ransomware attacks on the U.S. have originated in Russia. Putin, through a translator, claimed Russia has answered all U.S. inquiries about cyber attacks. He also said it's time to get rid of "insinuations" and "innuendo." 

Putin also suggested the U.S. is the main aggressor in cyber attacks globally, not Russia. 

Still, Putin said they agreed to "begin consultations in this respect." 

— Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Watson  

 

In response to a question from a Russian reporter, Putin claimed he and Mr. Biden had agreed to return ambassadors to their respective posts in the U.S. and Russia.

He did not elaborate any further, and it wasn't clear when those ambassadors would return.

Putin also said he and Mr. Biden addressed Ukraine, but not in depth.

 
Biden-Putin summit ends earlier than expected... 07:53

The highly anticipated summit between Mr. Biden and Putin concluded when an expanded bilateral meeting broke at 5:05 p.m. CEST, or 11:05 a.m. ET, according to a White House official.

The expanded bilateral meeting began at 4 p.m. local time, meaning it lasted barely an hour, and was not split into two parts as had been scheduled. Before that was a smaller bilateral meeting. 

Next, Putin is expected to hold a solo press conference. Mr. Biden will hold a solo press conference after Putin's. 

It is unclear when Mr. Biden's press conference will begin. 

 

The White House insists Mr. Biden did not indicate trust in Putin with a nod to a reporter who shouted a question at him during a chaotic photo opportunity ahead of the summit. 

A pool reporter in the room said the president looked her "directly in the eye and nodded his head" in the affirmative when she asked him whether he trusts Putin. 

A couple hours after the interaction, however, the White House gave a different interpretation of what had happened. 

"During a chaotic free for all with members of the press shouting questions over each other, the President gave a general head nod in the direction of the media. He wasn't responding to any question or anything other than the chaos," Psaki said in a statement.

Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

The journalist involved said they were "at the front of the room" with only one other reporter asking questions when the exchange occurred.

 
Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shook hands on the front steps of the hotel in Geneva, Switzerland that is hosting their summit on Wednesday, before going inside for the hours-long talks.

News cameras were allowed into the room to photograph the two leaders sitting together before the talks began. The presidents were joined in the room for the first session of discussions by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, along with translators for each side. 

Putin thanked Mr. Biden for showing initiative to arrange the summit and expressed hope that it would be a productive meeting.

Later sessions were to see a wider group of officials from both sides join the presidents and their top diplomats. 

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Geneva at about midday local time (6 a.m. Eastern) on Wednesday, flying into Switzerland from Moscow less than an hour before he was expected to shake hands with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks down stairs from his plane after arriving in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16, 2021, to attend a bilateral summit with U.S. President Joe Biden. HOST BROADCASTER/REUTERS

Mr. Biden flew into Geneva on Tuesday after a week of meetings with European allies. 

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov showed up at the hotel in Geneva where the summit is taking place ahead of his boss. He told Russian television in an interview aired before the meeting that Putin expected "difficult" talks with his American counterpart, but that Russia was approaching the summit with a "working" attitude, not a confrontational one.

Live Updates: Biden says "I did what I came to do" in Putin meeting
From left, Valery Gerasimov, Russia's First Deputy Defence Minister and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov speak ahead of a Russia-United States summit at the Villa La Grange hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Getty

Peskov said there was a need by both countries to "clear all the rubble" in bilateral relations, noting specifically Moscow's desire to regain control of Russian-owned properties in the U.S. that were seized by the American government years ago.