During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden said many topics were discussed with the goal of developing a “stable and predictable” relationship between Russia and the United States.
Strategic stability, including arms control, was one. At a press briefing, President Biden welcomed Russia’s decision to join the United States in launching a Strategic Stability Dialogue. Through this Dialogue, the United States and Russia seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.
Another topic covered at length was cybersecurity, occurring in the wake of the SolarWinds attack by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service that compromised hundreds of computers around the world, as well as a series of ransomware attacks originating in Russia. President Biden said, “We agreed to task experts in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what's off-limits [for cyber intrusions] and to follow up on specific cases that originate in…either of our countries.”
The need for the United States and Russia to ensure the continued flow of humanitarian aid to the millions of suffering Syrians was also discussed, as were the possible contributions of both Russia and the United States in preventing terrorism from taking root in Afghanistan. Another focus was ensuring that the Iranian regime never acquires nuclear weapons.
President Biden raised challenging issues with President Putin, including by expressing “the United States’ unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
He also told President Putin that “human rights is going to always be on table…It’s about who we are,” Mr. Biden said.
President Biden brought up the case of imprisoned opposition leader Aleksey Navalny and told reporters he had made clear to President Putin that if Navalny were to die in prison “the consequence of that would be devastating for Russia.” He also raised the harassment by the Kremlin of the U.S. broadcasting network Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and stressed to President Putin “the importance of a free press and freedom of speech.”
President Biden said the tone of the hours-long summit was “positive.” He said he did what he came to do: identify areas where our two countries can advance our mutual interest and benefit the world; communicate directly that the United State will respond when our vital interests are threatened; and clearly lay out our country’s values.
“There’s more work ahead,” said President Biden. But “now we’ve established a clear basis on how we intend to deal with Russia and the U.S.-Russia relationship.”