Biden-Putin Meeting Chaos as Russian Security Scuffle With Media

There were chaotic scenes in Geneva on Wednesday as reporters tried to cover the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two presidents shook hands and posed for photos outside the summit venue of Villa La Grange before entering the building. They then made themselves available to the press in the villa's book-lined library.

However, there was significant noise and confusion as journalists were reportedly shoved and jostled by Russian security personnel, making it difficult to tell what Biden was saying and whether he was responding to reporters' questions.

Politico's White House correspondent Anita Kumar, who was acting as White House pool reporter on Wednesday, described the scene in an email circulated by the White House Press Office.

"The media scuffle was the most chaotic your pooler has seen at a presidential event in nine years," Kumar wrote.

"Journalists pushed and shoved, yelling at each other to move but no one did. After just a minute or two, Russian security pulled the red rope separating the media from the leaders back to try to keep them away from the presidents.

"Russian security yelled at journalists to get out and began pushing journalists. Journalists and White House officials screamed back that the Russian security should stop touching us. Your pooler was pushed multiple times, nearly to the ground, as many poolers tripped over the red rope, which was now almost to the ground."

"Both presidents watched and listened to the media scuffle in front of them. They appeared amused by the scene. At one point, Biden leaned over and spoke to the interpreter and smiled," Kumar said.

Biden and Putin watch the media scuffle

— Anita Kumar (@anitakumar01) June 16, 2021

CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins also described the events on Twitter.

"The only press access at the Biden-Putin summit ended in chaos as several US reporters were left out of the room amid pushing and shoving. TV pool says Russian security 'pulled on our clothes and shoved us as we tried to stay.' Biden's remarks were very difficult to hear," Collins said.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand also cited the TV pool report in a tweet, saying: "More on the chaotic scene ahead of first Biden-Putin meeting, via the US TV pool: 'Lots of shoving and grabbing - it was extremely aggressive. The Russian security pulled on our clothes and shoved us.' Meanwhile, Russian journos blaming US press, saying they staged a 'stampede.'"

As a result of the difficulty in hearing Biden, there was some confusion about whether he responded to a question about trusting Putin. Some reports said that Biden had nodded in answer to the question, but the White House disputed this in a statement from Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

"During a chaotic free for all with members of the press shouting questions over each other, the President gave a general head nod in the direction of the media. He wasn't responding to any question or anything other than the chaos," Psaki's statement said.

President Biden will give a press conference later on Wednesday once his meetings with Putin have concluded. He will then depart Geneva and return to Washington, D.C. for around 11 p.m. EST.

Newsweek has asked the White House for comment.

Vladimir Putin Meets Joe Biden in Geneva
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets President of USA Joe Biden (R) during the US - Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near the Geneva Lake, on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. There were chaotic scenes as Russian security jostled with reporters. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images