Biden on Russia: ‘This is not a kumbaya moment, but a cold war isn’t in anybody’s interest’

The US president shared his impressions of his meeting with Vladimir Putin with the American mass media

At a press conference following a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden also dropped a hint to some warming in relationships between the two countries. At the same time, he stressed that America cannot impose its position on the whole world, neither can it always follow “international norms in state management”. Two circumstances made Biden’s meeting with the press different from Putin’s press conference. As the Russian federal mass media noted, only American journalists were allowed to participate in it. Also, it was twice shorter. Biden said what idea Putin brought Russians together with in the 1990s, according to the Russian president himself.

I said, ‘Well, how would you feel?’”

At the meeting with the American mass media, Joe Biden was out of his element — he constantly toyed with his jacket, he either took it off because “the sun is hot” or dropped and raised it. Nevertheless, he answered journalists’ questions with obvious pleasure for 23 minutes, not for an hour as Putin did. And he managed to deliver the key message — the country’s positions on many issues are coming closer.

Particularly talking about cybersecurity, he claimed that the sides agreed to involve experts in this topic. Biden offered Putin a list of 16 infrastructure entities that are banned from being cyber attacked. He reminded him of the attacks on the American pipeline:

“For example, when I talked about the pipeline that cyber hit for $5 million — that ransomware hit in the United States, I looked at him and I said, ‘Well, how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ He said it would matter,’” Biden claimed. He meant the hacking of Colonial Pipeline on 6 May, as a result of which the company was forced to suspend the operation of the pipeline.

According to the latest data, hackers stole a lot of data during the attack, blocked the company’s networks and threatened with leaking internal information on the Net leaving the system blocked “if Colonial Pipeline doesn’t pay a ransom”. Later, they said the American company transferred about $5 million in cryptocurrencies, while some mass media indicated the Russian origin of the group of hackers. Now the American president said that they agreed to have a consultation on cybersecurity.

Putin’s ridiculous comparison of Russian opposition with the Capitol attack

Noting that his key task was to protect the USA’s interests, Joe Biden emphasised that he didn’t consider Russia as enemy. Despite this, the head of the American state claimed, human rights in Russia, including Alexey Navalny’s case as well as Americans arrested in Russia were touched on. According to him, they talked about a free press in Russia.

The American leader explained his attention to these issues because these are basic American values. Biden shared what he said to Putin in reply to his comparison of the Russian opposition’s actions with the events in the Capitol on 6 January and months-long protests of the Black Lives Matter:

“My response is kind of what I communicated — that I think that’s a — that’s a ridiculous comparison. It’s one thing for literally criminals to break through cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer, and be held unaccountable than it is for people objecting and marching on the Capitol.”

“You want to get American business to invest? Let the American businessman in prison go”

At the same time, despite this, Joe Biden claimed, the USA and Russia have common interests in both weapon limitation and strategic stability (not to mention the above-mentioned cybersecurity). Though not only the situation in Ukraine, as Putin stressed in his press conference, but also the state in Belarus were discussed at the meeting, Biden insists. While trade relations between the two countries can resume:

“For example, the American businessman who was in house arrest. And I pointed out, “You want to get American business to invest? Let him go.”

By the way, at the press conference, Vladimir Putin said there could be a prisoner swap between Russia and the USA.

While Biden is sure that there won’t be a cold war between Russia and the USA, and Putin himself wouldn’t like it, the American president believes:

“It’s clearly not in anybody’s interest — your country’s or mine — for us to be in a situation where we’re in a new Cold War. But that does not mean he’s ready to, quote, figuratively speaking, “lay down his arms,” and say, “Come on.” He still, I believe, is concerned about being, quote, “encircled.” He still is concerned that we, in fact, are looking to take him down, et cetera. He still has those concerns, but I don’t think they are the driving force as to the kind of relationship he’s looking for with the United States,” Joe Biden assured the audience, however, at the same time he didn’t miss the chance of quipping.

“You got a multi-thousand-mile border with China. China is moving ahead, hellbent on election, as they say, seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world and the largest and the most powerful military in the world. This is not a ‘kumbaya’ moment, as you used to say back in the ’60s in the United States, like, ‘Let’s hug and love each other.’ it’s clearly not in anybody’s interest — your country’s or mine — for us to be in a situation where we’re in a new Cold War.” And I truly believe he thinks that — he understands that.”

It was just letting him know where I stood if there were violations of American sovereignty”

Biden says that he hopes to evaluate the productivity of the meeting with Vladimir Putin in 3-6 months and answer the question if there is a real possibility of improvement of relations between the countries. Moreover, neither side expressed threats at the meeting, the American president added.

“I heard he quoted my mom and quoted other people today. There was — it was very, as we say — which will shock you, coming from me — somewhat colloquial. And we talked about basic, basic, fundamental things. There was a — it was — and you know how I am: I explain things based on personal basis. ‘What happens if,’ for example. It was just letting him know where I stood; what I thought we could accomplish together; and what, in fact — if it was — if there were violations of American sovereignty, what would we do. He indicated that he was prepared to, quote, ‘help’ on Afghanistan — I won’t go into detail now; and help on — on Iran; and help on — and, in return, we told him what we wanted to do relative to bringing some stability and economic security or physical security to the people of Syria and Libya.”

Biden refused to answer the question if he considered Putin a killer or not again with irritation. But he noted that he didn’t trust everybody he meets as the US president, this wasn’t about trust but “self-interest”.

At the end of his short press conference, Biden suddenly shared Putin’s key idea he came to power with. As he said, he reminded his colleague at the meeting that Russia had a chance of creating a democratic government after Gorbachyov when society started to change.

“Mr. Putin decided was that Russia has always been a major international power when it’s been totally united as a Russian state, not based on ideology — whether it was going back to Tsar and Commissar, straight through to the — the revolution — the Russian Revolution, and to where they are today,” Joe Biden delivered Putin’s words to American journalists, Russian journalists were not allowed to attend the press conference.

By Sergey Afanasyev