Russian President Vladimir Putin after his first face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, 16 June, said that their talks were constructive and the two sides had agreed to discuss cybersecurity, return respective ambassadors to their posts and begin consultations to replace the last remaining treaty between the two countries limiting nuclear weapons.
Both the world leaders held separate press conferences after the summit in Geneva. Putin was quoted as saying, “The conversation was absolutely constructive", adding that they "agreed to start consultations on cybersecurity", news agency AFP reported.
Putin reportedly described Biden as a "very constructive, balanced person, very experienced, you can see it immediately".
US-Russia relations have deteriorated for years and they worsened when Biden said he thought Putin was a "killer". Biden’s remark led to the Russian ambassador being recalled from Washington for consultations. Similarly, the United States recalled its ambassador in April.
After the summit however, Putin said that he was satisfied with Biden’s explanation over “killer” comments.
After the summit, Biden told reporters: “I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War,” AFP reported.
Biden added that during the talks he had stressed that “certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack – period – by cyber or any other means.”
Cyberattacks on US Companies
United States has repeatedly complained of Russian cyber activity, which ranges from meddling and interference in elections to cyberattacks on US companies, and held that such activity is carried out either by hackers with links to the Kremlin or by Russian security services themselves.
Putin said that Russia had provided “exhaustive” answers to Washington on information requested on 10 separate cybersecurity incidents from Russia.
On the other hand, Putin added, “Russia sent 45 such requests to the United States last year and 35 this year,” however, Russia did not receive a single answer, Putin claimed. He further commented saying, “The largest number of cyberattacks in the world are carried out from the US space.”
Acting in response to the SolarWinds cyber attack that targeted federal organisations and more than 100 US companies, the Biden administration had brought sanctions against Russia in April this year.
The US President had further vowed to raise pressure on Russia for sheltering cybercriminals who have been accused of major attacks on a US oil pipeline and a meat supplier. However, Russia has denied claims of any involvement with hacking or ransomware crews.
On Wednesday, the US Justice Department's top national security official said that the Russian government actively provides shelter to hackers and ransomware extortionists operating from within Russia.
Addressing reporters, Putin also said that as the leading nuclear powers the two countries have "special responsibility for strategic stability in the world", AFP reported.
He added that Biden had made a "responsible decision" in February by extending the New START nuclear treaty, the last remaining arms reduction pact between Russia and the US.
(With inputs from AFP)