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Biden-Putin summit live updates: 'I did what I came to do," Biden says

ABC News logo ABC News 6/16/2021
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U.S. President Joe Biden held a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday at what the leaders agree is a "low point" in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

The two men faced off inside an 18th-century Swiss villa, situated alongside a lake in the middle of Geneva's Parc de la Grange. The fifth American president to sit down with Putin, Biden has spoken with him and met him before, in 2016.

MORE: What Putin wants when he meets Biden this week

Having called Putin a "killer" and saying he's told him before he has no "soul," Biden told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega on Monday that he also recalled the Russian leader as being "bright" and "tough."

"And I have found that he is a -- as they say, when you used to play ball -- a worthy adversary," Biden said.

 

Latest Developments

June 16, 2021

Biden departs Geneva to end first overseas trip as president

Biden gave a thumbs-up as he boarded Air Force One, leaving his summit with Putin after a week traveling across Europe meeting with world leaders in his first foreign trip as president.

a man standing next to a plane: President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Geneva airport, as he leaves Geneva after the U.S.-Russia summit, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Geneva airport, as he leaves Geneva after the U.S.-Russia summit, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

Biden told reporters at the airport he thinks he succeeded in what he said was his main mission of showing, on the world stage and to G-7 and NATO allies, that "America is back."

"They're glad America’s back -- and they acted that way," Biden said, offering final thoughts on his high-profile trip.

Biden reiterated that world leaders “thank[ed] him for arranging a meeting with Putin, and said he was a better position to represent the West "knowing that the rest of the West was behind us," adding he owed them all a "debt of gratitude."

 
June 16, 2021

Biden snaps at reporter over whether he's confident Putin will change, later apologizes

When asked on his way out of his solo press conference by CNN's Kaitlin Collins why he was confident Putin will change his behavior, Biden walked back toward reporters, raised his finger and said, "What the hell?... When did I say I was confident?"

Collins followed up noting Biden said earlier it would take "six months to a year" to see if the U.S. and Russia "have a strategic dialogue that matters."

"What I said was, let’s get it straight. 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. I'm not confident of anything. I'm just stating a fact," he said.

a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S President Joe Biden speaks to journalists as he is about to leave his press conference after the US-Russia summit in Geneva, June 16, 2021. © Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images U.S President Joe Biden speaks to journalists as he is about to leave his press conference after the US-Russia summit in Geneva, June 16, 2021.

When she followed up again, Biden said, "If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business."

But by the time he arrived at Air Force One a short while later to return to Washington, Biden walked over to reporters and apologized.

Joe Biden et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One at Geneva airport, as he leaves Geneva after the U.S.-Russia summit, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One at Geneva airport, as he leaves Geneva after the U.S.-Russia summit, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

"I owe my last question an apology. I shouldn’t have -- I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave," he said. "Anyway. Thanks for being here," adding he feels good about where the country is headed following his first foreign trip.

 
June 16, 2021

Biden says meeting Putin not about trust but about American 'self-interest'

Asked now that he's met face to face with Putin if he thinks can trust him, Biden said the summit was "not about trust."

"This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest," Biden said. "Almost anyone that I would work out an agreement with that affected the American people's interest, I don't say, 'Well, I trust you, no problem. Let's see what happens.' You know, as that old expression goes, 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating.'"

 
June 16, 2021

Biden says he raised many issues with Putin, but did not claim he changed his behavior

Biden said he raised with Putin -- and will continue to raise -- cases like jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the two "wrongfully" imprisoned Marine veterans, Paul Whlean and Trevor Reed, and the ability of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to operate, for starters.

However, he did not claim he caused Putin to change his behavior on those matters, signaling he thought the face-to-face meeting in itself a success.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, June 16, 2021, in Geneva. © Patrick Semansky/AP President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, June 16, 2021, in Geneva.

"There were no threats, just simple assertions made. And no, 'Well, if you do that then we'll do this' with anything I said. It was just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there were violations of American sovereignty, what would we do," Biden said of the meeting.

On cyberattacks, Biden said they agreed to task expert in both countries "to work on specific understandings about what's off-limits and to follow-up on specific cases that originate in other countries." Putin refuses to say Russian hackers are to blame for some of the recent cyberattacks, despite U.S. intelligence indicating otherwise.

On the Middle East, Biden said Putin raised the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He also said they agreed it's in the interests of both nations not to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: U.S President Joe Biden holds a press conference after the US-Russia summit in Geneva, June 16, 2021. © Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images U.S President Joe Biden holds a press conference after the US-Russia summit in Geneva, June 16, 2021.
 
June 16, 2021

Biden lays out 3 areas where he says he succeeded

Biden declared the summit a success at his solo press conference, saying "I did what I came to do."

"Number one: identify areas of practical work our two countries can do to advance our mutual interests and also benefit the world. Two: communicate directly, directly, that the United States will respond to actions that impair our vital interests or those of our allies. And three: to clearly lay out our country's priorities and our values so he heard it straight from me," he said.

"There's much more work ahead. I'm not suggesting that any of this is done," Biden added, before taking questions. "But we've gotten a lot of business done on this trip."

 
June 16, 2021

Biden calls summit positive: 'I did what I came to do'

Following Putin's preser, Biden delivered his readout on the meeting in a solo news conference from outside his hotel in Geneva.

He started with a joke about that chaotic photo op earlier, in which Russian security pushed American reporters, before reading from prepared remarks giving his take on the summit following at the end of his week abroad.

"I've just finished the -- the last meeting of this week's long trip, the U.S.-Russian summit. And I know there were a lot of hype around this meeting, but it's pretty straightforward to me," Biden said, that "there's no substitute ... for face-to-face dialogue between leaders, none."

"President Putin and I -- share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries, a relationship that has to be stable and predictable," he continued. "We should be able to cooperate where it's in our mutual interest. And where we have differences, I wanted President Putin to understand why I say what I say, and why I do what I do, and how we'll respond to specific kinds of actions that harm America's interest."

Biden said he told Putin that his agenda isn't "against Russia or anyone else" but "for the American people."

 
June 16, 2021

Putin's impression of Biden: 'Very balanced, professional man'

While Putin defended Russia on several matters in his news conference, he called the summit with Biden "very efficient, substantive" and offered his fresh impression of the American president to reporters.

"He is very balanced, professional man," Putin said. "He's very experienced. He talked a bit about his family and what his mother told him. They are important things -- maybe they're not quite relevant -- but it does talk about the level of his moral values, which is very attractive," he said.

a group of people looking at a screen: Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, June 16, 2021. © Denis Balibouse/Reuters Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, June 16, 2021.

"And it seems to me that we did speak the same language. Certainly doesn’t imply that we must look into each other’s eyes and find a soul," Putin said, seeming to refer to a past comment from Biden, who says he looked Putin in the eye during a visit to the Kremlin in 2011 and told him he had no soul, a moment Putin said he doesn't remember.

"But essentially, our talks were pragmatic," he said.

 
June 16, 2021

ABC News to Putin on imprisoned opposition leader Navalny: 'What are you so afraid of?'

ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott pressed Putin directly on the fate of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navlany.

"The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned, or jailed is long. Alexey Navalny’s organization calls for free and fair elections, an end to corruption. But Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it extremist. And you have now prevented anyone who supports him to run for office," Scott said. "So my question is, Mr. President, what are you so afraid of?"

Putin responded by bringing up the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and finished by saying, "And fears, I don't want to talk about that. That's absolutely irrelevant."

"You didn't answer my question, sir," Scott said. "If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison or poisoned, doesn't that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?"

Putin again raised the U.S. insurrection, noting that 400 people were arrested.

"As for who is killing whom and throwing whom in jail, people came to the U.S. Congress with political demands," Putin said. "They face prison sentences of up to 20, maybe even 25 years."

"They are being called 'domestic terrorists.' They are being accused of a number of other crimes," he added, deflecting from Navalny whom he refuses to call by name.

 
June 16, 2021

Putin, in solo news conference after summit, says 'no hostility' with Biden

After the summit, Putin was the first of the two leaders to hold a solo press conference.

He said there was "no hostility" between himself and Biden and called their talks "quite constructive" with both sides seeking "common ground," according to a translator.

a screen shot of Vladimir Putin in a suit and tie: Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, June 16, 2021. © Denis Balibouse/Reuters Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, June 16, 2021.

"I think that both of these sides showed a willingness to understand one another and to find ways to bring our positions closer together," he said through a translator.

Putin said the leaders agreed on the "return of American ambassadors to Moscow and our ambassador to Washington," and regarding cybersecurity, said, "We agreed that we would begin consultations in this respect."

When a reporter asked a question in English about jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navlany, Putin first laughed, took out his earpiece and claimed he didn't hear what was asked through the translator, before saying he believes Nalvalny "wanted to consciously break the law."

"This man knew he was breaking the laws of Russia. He has been twice convicted," Putin said, refusing to call him by name but instead refer to him as, "the citizen whom you have just mentioned."

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Russia's President Vladimir Putin 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 Russia's President Vladimir Putin 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.
 
June 16, 2021

Biden gives thumbs-up leaving summit

The summit between the two presidents ended earlier than expected. Biden was the first to leave -- giving a thumbs-up to reporters as he walked out.

He departed Villa La Grange for his hotel in the "Beast," the armored presidential limousine that had been idling outside.

The two men spent two hours and 38 minutes meeting together, according to the White House -- shorter than up five hours White House officials said their encounter might last.

Next, Putin is expected to hold a news conference. Biden will wait to begin his own press conference until his counterpart's concludes.

Click here to read the rest of the blog.
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie © Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Video: Biden Spars With Reporter After Putin Meet: 'What Do You Do All The Time'? (Newsweek)

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