Biden, Putin agree to resume diplomatic operations

U.S. President Joe Biden said his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin showed the prospect for the two countries’ relationship to “significantly improve,” but warned against cyberattacks and violations of human rights.

The two had a highly anticipated meeting in Switzerland on Wednesday on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in Britain. They held separate news conferences after the summit, which Biden said was a “test” for their future relationship.

“I am not sitting here saying because the president and I agreed that we would do these things that all of a sudden it’s going to work,” Biden told reporters. “I’m not saying that. What I am saying is I think there’s a genuine prospect to significantly improve the relations between our two countries, without us giving up a single, solitary thing based on principle and our values.”

Biden described the meeting as generally “positive,” adding that “I did what I came to do.”

He said he pressed Putin on human rights abuses, specifically the detainment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“I made it clear to [Putin] the consequences would be devastating for Russia” if Navalny died in prison, Biden said.

Biden also gave Putin a list of 16 infrastructure sites that should be considered off-limits for cyberattacks.

“I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability and he knows it. I pointed out, if they violate basic norms, we will respond.

“I think the last thing he wants now is a cold war.”

Putin also met with the press after the inaugural in-person meeting between the two leaders.

The leaders agreed that Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and John Sullivan, Washington’s ambassador to Russia, would return to their posts and resume diplomatic relations. The two were recalled after Biden announced sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for a massive cyberattack last year.

As a result, consular operations, visas and other diplomatic services in both countries came to a halt, causing ripple effects in industries, families and aid groups that maintain ties in both countries.

Putin denied Russian involvement in the cyberattacks against public and private U.S. institutions in recent years. He suggested that there had been some agreement to establish expert groups to examine the issues. U.S. officials fear this will tie the questions up in committees rather than set clear red lines.

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