Everything We Know About Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin Meeting

Live Updates
  • Putin said he and Biden will reinstate ambassadors
  • Putin called Biden a "very experienced" politician
  • Putin dodged questions from reporters about human rights abuses, specifically about political opponents like Alexei Navalny
  • Biden said he achieved what he came to do in Geneva
  • Biden said his agenda is not "against Russia" but "for the American people"
  • Biden said the leaders discussed cybersecurity, Ukraine, terrorism and human rights
  • Despite labeling the talks as positive, Biden said he does not trust that Putin will change his behavior

President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday in a summit that both leaders described as constructive. Biden and Putin began the summit with a handshake outside of the Villa La Grange before heading inside.

The leaders had two meetings, a smaller session that lasted about 90 minutes and an expanded session with aides that lasted just over an hour. Overall, the summit was shorter than expected. Putin and Biden each held separate press conferences following the summit.

The meeting concluded Biden's first major diplomatic trip overseas that included the G7 and NATO summits with Western allies.

Biden and Putin Handshake
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) greets U.S. President Joe Biden during the U.S.-Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near the Geneva Lake, on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Biden and Putin are meeting in Geneva for the first time as presidents on Wednesday. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The live updates for this event have concluded.

Biden will follow through with Putin on imprisoned Americans in Russia

As he left the stage at the end of his press conference, President Biden said he discussed the detained Americans in Russia with President Putin and will "follow through" on those talks.

"I am not going to walk away on that," Biden told reporters.

The families of U.S. Marines Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan—Whelan was convicted of espionage by a Moscow court and sentenced to 16 years in prison—appealed to Biden to help release their loved ones.

U.S., Russia release joint statement

The U.S. and Russia released a joint statement following the Biden-Putin summit.

The statement said that "even in periods of tension," the two leaders share goals of "ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war."

"The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control," the statement said. "Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures."

Biden said he and Putin "covered so much" in their meetings

Biden said that even though the meetings with Putin Wednesday ended sooner than expected, "we covered so much."

"The reason it didn't go longer is when was the last time two heads of state spent two hours in direct conversation directly across the table going into excruciating detail? You may know of a time, but I don't," Biden said.

"There was a summary done by him and by me of what we covered. Lavrov and Blinken talked about what we covered," he continued. "We raised things that required more amplification or we made sure we did not have any misunderstandings. It was after two hours there, we looked at each other like, 'OK, what next?'"

Biden is not confident Putin will change his behavior

When asked if he can trust Putin, Biden said "this is not about trust, this is about self-interest and verification of self-interest."

"Let's see what happens," Biden continued. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Biden also clarified that he is not confident Putin will change his behavior, but but "what will change their behavior is that the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in their world. I'm not confident of anything."

Biden said there won't be a "Kumbaya moment" between the U.S. and Russia, but he believed Putin understands "it's clearly not in anybody's interests" for there to be "a new Cold War."

Biden also said there were no threats at the meetings, only "simple assertions."

The real test on the success of Wednesday's talks, Biden said, will come in the coming months.

"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 said. "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 said he did what he came to Geneva to do

Biden said he achieved what he came to do in the meetings with Putin.

"Number one, identify areas of practical work our two countries could do to advance our mutual interest and also benefit the world," Biden said.

"Two, communicate directly, directly, that the United States would respond to actions that impair our vital interests or those of our allies," he continued. "And three, to clearly lay out our country's priorities and our values so he heard it straight from me."

Biden also said "the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia" if Alexei Navalny dies or is killed or if Russia interferes with future U.S. elections.

"He knows there are consequences," Biden said. "He knows I will take action."

"Let's get this straight: How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he's engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power" he continued.

Biden warned Putin that U.S. has "significant" cyber capabilities of its own, a less-than-subtle warning that America could respond to future attacks on infrastructure. He didn't say how Putin responded, but said he doesn't think that Putin is looking for a new Cold War

— West Wing Reports (by Paul Brandus) (@WestWingReport) June 16, 2021

Biden said talks with Putin were "positive'

To kick off his press conference following the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden said his agenda is not "against Russia" but "for the American people."

Biden said his priorities are fighting COVID-19, rebuilding the economy, working on relations with allies and protecting the American people. He also highlighted the importance of human rights.

"How can I be the president of the United States and not speak out on human rights?" Biden said.

He said speaking out on human rights will "always be on the table" and noted that he brought up American prisoners in Russia, election security and free press and free speech with Putin.

Biden mentioned that the tone of the meetings with Putin was "good, positive" and focused on mutual cooperation.

"There wasn't any strident action taken, where we disagreed, I disagreed, I stated what it was," Biden said. "Where he disagreed, he stated, but it was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere. There's been too much of that going on."

However, Biden said shared "principles must be backed up by practice."

Biden said they discussed arms control, reducing unintended conflict and agreed to set up a bilateral strategic stability dialogue.

The sovereignty of Ukraine, cybersecurity, prevention of terrorism in Afghanistan were also points of discussion.

Biden signaled the meeting with Putin was a positive ending to his first diplomatic trip overseas.

"Over this last week, I believe, I hope, the United States has shown the world that we are back standing with our allies, we rallied our fellow democracies to make concerted commitments to take on the biggest challenges our world faces, and now we've established a clear basis on how we intend to deal with Russia and the US-Russian relationship," Biden said.

Biden did not invite Putin to White House

Putin said talks with Biden were "pragmatic."

"If you ask me what kind of partner President Biden is, I would say he's a balanced and professional man, and it's clear that he's very experienced," Putin said.

Putin described the talks as an "open and frank dialogue" that were "aimed at achieving results" and "pushing back the frontier of trust

However, Putin said Biden did not invite him to the White House.

Putin also said he and Biden did not talk in great detail about the coronavirus.

He said Russia offered assistance to the previous administration and hopes to work in that vein in the future.

Putin dodges questions about human rights abuses

Putin said he and Biden spoke about human rights, upon Biden's request.

When asked about jailed Russian opposition leader Alexai Navalny, Putin said he "deliberately" ignored the law.

"This man knew that he was breaking the law of Russia. He has been twice convicted," Putin said.

"The gentleman in question went abroad for treatment," Putin continued. "As soon as he went to the hospital he showed his videos on the internet ... He wanted consciously to break the law. He did exactly what he wanted to do. So what kind of discussion can we be having [about him]?"

Putin refused to call Navalny by name.

Putin then deflected on human rights abuses, pointed to shootings in American and U.S. drone strikes killing civilians in the Middle East.

"Everything that happens in our countries, one way or another, is the responsibility of the leaders themselves," Putin says via translation.

Pres Putin, deflecting a question about human rights in Russia, talks about Guantanamo Bay and lists the number of ways people die in U.S. including people being shot in the back & crime. He says, "Who is the killer?"

Note: Pres Biden has said he believes Putin is a "killer."

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 16, 2021

Putin also dodged questions about killed or jailed political opponents in Russia and turned the focus to Black Live Matter, police killings and the storming of the Capitol in U.S.

Putin says Biden is a "very experienced" politician with "different views" from Trump

Putin called Biden a "very experienced" politician.

"We spoke for more than two hours," Putin said. "It doesn't happen with all leaders that you have such a detailed conversation."

Putin also drew a difference between Bien and former president Donald Trump.

"His predecessor had a different view," Putin said. "This one decided to act differently. His reply was different from Trump's."

Putin said he and Biden will reinstate ambassadors

During his press conference following the Geneva summit with President Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was "no hostility" in his meeting with Biden.

"Quite the contrary," Putin said. "I think it was very constructive."

He said that Russia and the U.S. have "agreed to consultations" on cybersecurity.

"Both sides have to assume certain obligations there," Putin said.

Putin also said that he and Biden agreed to reinstate their respective ambassadors in a bid to de-escalate tensions.

The summit ended earlier than expected

The second meeting between President Biden and President Putin has ended after about an hour.

The White House confirmed to the pool that this was the last meeting of the day and the summit in Geneva has ended.

The sessions Wednesday ran shorter than expected. The two leaders met for only about two and a half hours. Reports initially anticipated the meetings to last 4-5 hours.

The second meeting was going to be broken into two parts with a break, but officials said it ended up being one long session.

Separate press conferences with the two leaders are expected next. Putin will speak first, then Biden.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared the first image of the second round of talks between President Biden, President Putin and their delegation of aides and advisors.

The first images from the extended Russia-US talks, helmed by Presidents Vladimir #Putin and @JoeBiden.

📸 @rian_ru#RussiaUS pic.twitter.com/kuNbnvGDLh

— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) June 16, 2021

Following this bilateral meeting, Biden and Putin will give separate press conferences.

Commotion among press corps continues outside Villa La Grange

There was a commotion among the members of the media outside the Villa La Grange Wednesday afternoon, as journalists tried to enter the building to cover the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

C-SPAN Communications Director Howard Mortman shared a video shoving and shouting among the press corps.

"Journalists pushed and shoved trying to enter the building," the Washington Post reports. "There was screening and yelling."

"NO PUSHING!"

"Shoving ensues among press corps covering #GenevaSummit "
- Headline over @WPJohnWagner & @ikhurshudyan
"journalists pushed and shoved trying to enter the building. There was screaming and yelling"https://t.co/Uit7B9QCcf
Here's some of what that looked like: pic.twitter.com/ouGXEbOLNJ

— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) June 16, 2021

This video comes after pool reports of a "chaotic" scuffle among members of the media inside the Villa's library earlier in the day.

Council on Foreign Relations President says Biden-Putin meeting is about "what we can avoid"

Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass told CNN that the goal of the Biden-Putin meeting is less about what the U.S. and Russia can accomplish together, and more about "what we can avoid."

"I think the goals of this summit and the relationship more broadly is less what we can accomplish together," Hass told CNN's Poppy Harlow. "The real question is what we can avoid."

"Can we avoid further aggression in Europe? Can we deter Russia from, say, doing towards a NATO country what it did towards Ukraine? Can we get Russia to use force less indiscriminately in Syria? Can we get Russia to back off some of its use of cyber? That, to me, is a realistic agenda," he added. "It may not seem like a lot, but to keep a bad situation from getting worse is sometimes all you can do in foreign policy."

Initial meeting ends, expanded session begins

The first, smaller meeting between Biden and Putin ended, according to White House officials. The first session lasted about 90 minutes.

The two leaders will now move to an expanded bilateral session joined by other aides.

On the U.S. side, Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken are joined by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan and National Security Council Russia experts Eric Green and Stergos Kaloudis.

The Russian delegation includes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, Lavrov's deputy Sergei Ryabkov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov. Kremlin envoys on Ukraine and Syria, as well as Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, are also expected to attend.

Biden and Putin
US President Joe Biden (R) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva on June 16, 2021. After the first, smaller session, the two leaders are now moving to an expanded session with aides. DENIS BALIBOUSE/AFP via Getty Images

Media scuffle was "chaotic" as reporters tried to cover Biden Putin library meeting

There were chaotic scenes on Wednesday as members of the media tried to cover President Joe Biden's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a library at the summit venue, Villa La Grange.

Politico's Anita Kumar, who is acting as White House pool reporter for the day, wrote in an email via the White House Press Office: "The media scuffle was the most chaotic your pooler has seen at a presidential event in nine years. 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."

In the confusion, it was difficult to make out what Biden was saying and some reported that he had nodded when asked if he trusted Putin. White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said Biden was not responding to any particular question with the nod.

It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. @POTUS was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally. He said just two days ago in his presser: “verify, then trust.” https://t.co/5C9gP4XTtO

— Kate Bedingfield (@WHCommsDir) June 16, 2021

Is Russia a serious threat to the U.S.?

Many policymakers and pundits in the U.S. talk up Russia as a major threat. But is that actually the case?

In Newsweek's The Debate podcast, Alexis Mrachek from the Heritage Foundation and Josh Shifrinson from Boston University exchanged opposing points of view on the magnitude of the geopolitical and national security threat posed by Russia.

Putin thanks Biden for "initiative" in calling summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked President Joe Biden for his "initiative" in arranging Wednesday's summit meeting. Putin made the remark upon meeting Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva.

"Mr. President, I'd like to thank you for your initiative to meet today," Putin said. He added that he knew Biden "had a long trip and lots of work."

The Russian president said there were "lots of questions accumulated in Russia-U.S. relations that require discussion on the highest level."

Biden has been in Europe since June 9. He attended a three-day meeting of the G7 in Cornwall in the U.K. and then a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium before his scheduled summit with Putin.

Video of Biden and Putin shaking hands

Here's video footage of Biden and Putin shaking hands at the start of the summit.

Putin wants a deal to prevent "cyber Pearl Habor"

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking an agreement from his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in order to rein in global cyberwarfare, reports Newsweek's Tom O'Connor and Naveed Jamali.

Moscow sees the effort as critical in stemming an already raging 21st-century digital arms race and avoiding a miscalculation that could spark a conflict between the two top military powers.

Biden and Putin pictured shaking hands in Geneva

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin shook hands before they entered the venue for the summit meeting in Geneva on Wednesday. The moment was captured by photographers on the scene.

This is the first time Biden has met Putin since he became president in January.

Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden Shake Hands
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets US President 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. The two leaders are meeting for the first time since Biden became president but had met when he was vice president. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Putin hopes meeting with Biden will be "productive"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes his meeting with President Joe Biden today will be "productive." Biden and Putin appeared on camera with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov at Villa La Grange in Geneva.

"I think it's always better to meet face-to-face," Biden said.

Speaking in Russian, Putin said: "I hope our meeting will be productive."

Putin could remain in power for another 15 years

Joe Biden has been in power for five months. Vladimir Putin on the other hand has ruled Russia for more than 20 years—flipping back and forth between being the country's president and prime minister.

Despite Russian presidents having a two-term limit, Putin signed a law last year changing the country's constitution so that he can run for two more six-year terms. This means he could stay president until 2036.

Putin Statista Power
Statista

Biden and Putin shake hands before summit meeting

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have shaken hands ahead of today's summit meeting. The two leaders appeared before reporters outside the meeting site, Villa La Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Swiss President Guy Parmelin wished both men "fruitful dialogue" and they shook hands before entering the venue. Putin had arrived first and Biden was running about 10 minutes behind schedule. The welcome photo with Putin and Parmelin took place as scheduled.

The Biden-Putin summit is officially underway, without any serious delay. "Best wishes, and goodbye," says the Swiss president, who is hosting the meeting. Biden and Putin shook hands before heading indoors. pic.twitter.com/c93Y1R745d

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 16, 2021

NATO's stark warning to Russia

Before the summit, NATO leaders sent a warning on Monday that Russia would face consequences if it did not comply with international obligations and responsibilities.

"Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to 'business as usual.' We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defense posture," NATO leaders wrote.

Biden arrives at summit meeting venue

President Joe Biden has arrived at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland ahead of his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was greeted by Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

Biden shook Parmelin's hand and paused for photos at the door of the villa but he didn't respond to questions shouted by reporters on the scene. The president was running about 10 minutes behind schedule.

Putin arrives at summit meeting site

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at Villa La Grange, the location of his Wednesday summit meeting with President Joe Biden. He was greeted by Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

Putin's plane touched down in Geneva at 12.27pm local time (6.27am EST) and he then traveled to the venue. The Russian president arrived first, which should end any concerns the White House may have had about Putin arriving late - a tactic he's used in the past.

Putin's fear of U.S. cyberattack in the build-up to summit

Cyberwarfare is set to be one of the top talking points in today's meeting. On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that he is concerned that the United States could attack his country.

In an interview with NBC News, Putin said that: "What people can be afraid of in America, the very same thing can be a danger to us. The U.S. is a high-tech country, NATO has declared cyberspace an area of combat. That means they are planning something; they are preparing something so obviously this cannot but worry us."

Biden will give press conference overlooking Lake Geneva

President Biden will give a press conference after his meeting with Putin at a site overlooking Switzerland's Lake Geneva. The venue has already been set up with a podium and U.S. flags.

NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Peter Alexander shared a photo of the site on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

The view from the site of @POTUS’ news conference following today’s summit, overlooking Switzerland’s Lake Geneva:@TODAYshow pic.twitter.com/bwv8xSHeIU

— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 16, 2021

Vladimir Putin Arrives in Geneva Ahead of Summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Geneva, Switzerland ahead of his summit meeting with President Joe Biden, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The two leaders will meet each other at 1.35pm local time (7.35am EST).

Bush and Putin called "best of friends" after meeting this day in 2001

As Biden prepares for his first meeting with Vladimir Putin since becoming commander-in-chief, a previous summit between Russia and the U.S. shows how much the relationship has changed.

On June 16, 2001, then President George W. Bush met Putin in Ljubljana, Slovenia and the two leaders reportedly got on so well that a BBC News report at the time described them as "best of friends."

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue," Bush said of the meeting.

"He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship," he said.

Biden's meeting with Putin is taking place 20 years later and is not expected to have the same result. The president has indicated he will confront Putin on a number of contentious issues, including cyber security and recent ransomware attacks linked to Russia.

George W. Bush Shakes Hands with Putin
Former President George W. Bush, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their joint press conference June 16, 2001 at Brdo outside Ljubljana, Slovenia. Biden is meeting Putin on the 20th anniversary of the Ljubljana meeting. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russian navy conducts largest exercise since Cold War

The Russian navy is conducting the largest naval exercise since the Cold War ahead of Wednesday's summit between Biden and Putin. The exercise involves surface ships, anti-submarine aircraft and long-range bombers and is taking place in the Pacific 300 to 500 miles west of Hawaii.

Three F-22 stealth fighters were scrambled from Hawaii's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Sunday but they did not intercept any Russian aircraft. A U.S. carrier strike group is conducting a planned strike group certification exercise around 200 miles east of Hawaii.

Biden-Putin summit time and schedule

The White House has released President Biden's schedule for Wednesday, including his summit with Putin and a meeting with the Swiss president. All times are Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Biden received the presidential daily briefing at 9.30am local time.

1.10pm: Biden meet Swiss President Guy Parmelin at Villa La Grange, Geneva.

1.25pm: Biden takes a welcome photo with Parmelin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

1.35pm: Biden and Putin hold a bilateral meeting at Villa La Grange.

2.55pm: Biden holds an "expanded bilateral meeting" with Putin.

4.40pm: The expanded bilateral meeting with Putin continues.

Biden will hold a press conference without Putin once the meeting has concluded but no time has yet been announced for it. Following the press conference, the president will depart Geneva and head back to Washington, arriving at 11pm EST.

Biden set to confront Putin for first time

Both leaders have acknowledged that U.S.-Russia relations are at a historic low point. Biden has previously agreed that Putin is a "killer" but the Russian president dismissed the comments as "Hollywood macho."

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Biden said: "This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other. It's about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship are with Russia."

"We're not looking for conflict. We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together," Biden said.

Crimea electronic warfare stations switched on

Russia's electronic warfare stations in Crimea will be switched on ahead of the meeting between Biden and Putin, according to state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. Citing a source in the the security forces, the agency reported on Wednesday that the stations along the border with Ukraine will be placed in active mode to prevent what it described as "possible Ukrainian provocations" into Russian airspace.

Crimea had been part of Ukraine but was annexed by Russia in 2014 after the Russian military entered the region.