Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

The Putin-Biden summit: Moscow Khokhloma vs. Aviator sunglasses

On June  16, Geneva hosted the first meeting between presidents of Russia and the USa, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden. After the talks, the presidents, as expected, did not hold a joint press conference.

Putin was the first to come out to journalists. Here's what he said:

Russia and the United States agreed to return their ambassadors to Moscow and Washington. Noteworthy, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov left for Moscow "for consultations" in March,  whereas his US counterpart John Sullivan left in April under the same pretext.

Putin admitted that there were too many obstructions in the relationship between Russia and the United States, but the parties are determined to search for solutions.

Putin said that he did not sense any hostility in the negotiations with Biden. He also said that the two countries could try and find certain compromises in relation to the issue of exchange of prisoners between Russia and the USA.  "The Russian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department will work in this direction," Putin said. 

Speaking about Biden's "killer" remarks in the ABC News in March, Putin said: 

“We all know what those statements are about. President Biden called me afterwards, we talked, and I was ok with his explanations. He put forward a suggestion to meet. Once again, I could see that President Biden is a very experienced person. We talked face to face with him for almost two hours. His predecessor avoided a similar question, and the current president decided to answer in this way. In general, everything that happens in our countries is a responsibility of the political leadership. In the United States, someone gets killed every day. One won't have time to say a word, when they get shot in the chest or in the back."

Speaking about opposition activist and blogger Alexey Navalny, Putin said:

“I proceed from the fact that he deliberately decided to be detained. He did what he wanted. Unfortunately, the format of the press conference does not allow us to speak in detail. I don’t think I’ll say something complicated."

Putin quoted Leo Tolstoy when he was asked to comment on the level of mutual understanding and trust between Russia and the United States: 

“Leo Tolstoy once said there is no happiness in life, there is only distant lightning of it, so cherish it. <...> It seems to me that those distant lightnings flashed."

“We respond absolutely adequately to arising threats. We need to agree on the rules of the game," Putin said when talking about the predictability of Russia's behaviour for the West. 

Biden and his aides watched Putin's briefing very attentively, CNN reported.

The summit and how it went

The meeting lasted for about four hours. The first part was held in a narrow format. In addition to the presidents, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken took part in it as well. The second part of the meeting was held in an extended format. 

President Putin was punctual on his first international visit in 18 months. He landed in Switzerland shortly before the beginning of the summit. Joe Biden arrived in Geneva the day before from Brussels and spent the night at Intercontinental Hotel.

Vladimir Putin was the first to arrive at La Grange villa in a motorcade of Aurus limousines. Biden arrived almost a quarter of an hour later. Swiss President Guy Parmelin welcomed the two presidents at the villa. The Swiss President wished the guests good luck, and they went to the negotiating room. Putin thanked Biden for initiating the meeting, to which Biden replied that it was always best to meet face to face. 

Putin and Biden started their conversation in the library, which is considered the best book collection in Geneva, with the oldest books dating back to the 15th century. 

Prior to the summit, both Putin and Biden admitted that relations between the two countries had reached the worst level in history.

US-Russian relationship at lowest level in history

Four days before the meeting, Putin said that the relationship between Russia and the United States "dropped to their lowest point in recent years." Biden agreed with the Russian president's point of view and added that the future of relations between the two states would depend on whether Russia could follow international norms. 

Since Biden took office, both Russia and the United States have expelled ten diplomats each, and the ambassadors of the two countries have returned to their capitals. Russia included the United States on the list of unfriendly countries and banned the embassy from hiring Russians. The US Embassy had to cut its staff by 75 percent.

Even during periods of tensions, Russia and the United States have demonstrated that they are capable of waking the path to reach the joint goals to ensure strategic stability.

“The recent extension of the START Treaty comes as an indication of our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today we reaffirm our adherence to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, that it should never be unleashed,” the joint statement by Presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden said. 

To this end, Russia and the United States intend to kick off a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability already in the near future. 

The summit and the gifts

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented his American counterpart Joe Biden with the Moscow Khokhloma writing set, Kremlin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

It was also reported that Biden presented Putin with a pair of aviator sunglasses and a crystal figurine.

After a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the implementation of the Minsk agreements to be Moscow's only commitment to Ukraine.

“Moscow has the only obligation to resolve the situation in Ukraine - to contribute to the implementation of the provisions of Minsk-2,” the president said.

Interestingly, the two presidents did not talk about Ukraine much. Putin told reports after the summit was over that the parties touched upon the issue of Ukraine's incorporation into NATO very briefly. 

Putin's remarks after the summit