U.S.-Russia Relations Under Biden 'Quite Constructive,' Ties Should Normalize, Putin Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin described U.S.-Russia relations under President Joe Biden as "quite productive," the Associated Press reported. The Russian leader was speaking on Wednesday during a panel discussion at an international energy conference in Moscow when he expressed hope that ties between Russia and the U.S. would balance out with their joint concerns.

"Mutual interests will undoubtedly lead to the normalization of our ties, and the American political establishment will stop speculating on the Russian-U.S. relations to the detriment of their own interests," he said.

Putin said that he has established "working, stable relations" with Biden, adding that Russian diplomats and visiting U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland had spoken after their Geneva summit in June about arranging additional contact between the two leaders.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeted comments from Nuland, who said that she "very much appreciated the frank, productive review of U.S.-Russia relations." Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, also said Wednesday that "we remain committed to a stable, predictable relationship," the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.S.-Russia Relations
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday described relations between the U.S.-Russia relations under President Joe Biden as “quite productive.” Putin gestures while speaking at the plenary session of the Russian Energy Week in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

At the energy conference, Putin rejected the allegations from some European experts and politicians that Russia has been holding up gas deliveries and causing energy prices to spike. The Russian leader also rebuffed criticism of an ongoing domestic crackdown on dissent and independent media.

Putin strongly defended a Russian law requiring those who receive foreign funds and engage in unspecified political activities to register as "foreign agents," describing it as a quid pro quo response to a U.S. law that has been used to target Russian media organizations in the United States.

Critics say the Russian law has been used to muzzle critical media outlets since the "foreign agent" stigma has strong pejorative connotations and implies closer government scrutiny.

Dmitry Muratov, who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work as editor of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, wondered if authorities would designate his paper as a "foreign agent."

Asked Wednesday if that was a possibility, Putin responded that Muratov shouldn't worry "if he doesn't violate the Russian law and doesn't give a pretext to be designated as a foreign agent."

"But if he tries to shield himself with the Nobel Peace Prize to do something that violates the Russian law, it would mean he would do it deliberately to attract attention or for some other reason," the president added.

Putin also spoke scathingly of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, charging that he was trying "to get business advantages by shielding himself with political activities." As per his custom, Putin did not mention Navalny by name.

Navalny, Putin's most adamant political foe, was imprisoned this year after returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The Kremlin has denied the accusation. He received a 2½-year prison term for violating the terms of a suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he dismissed as politically motivated.

The Kremlin hasn't yet said whether Putin would travel to Rome to attend the Group of 20 summit later this month, which Biden is set to attend.

Asked about Russia's efforts to develop new weapons, Putin said they came as a response to Washington's 2002 decision to withdraw from a Cold War-era treaty that banned defenses against ballistic missiles. He said the move threatened to undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent.

He noted that "an arms race is ongoing," but added that Russia was ready to discuss its new weapons at arms control talks with the U.S.

Biden and Putin Relations
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he has established “working, stable relations” with President Joe Biden, adding that Russian diplomats and a U.S. official had spoken after their Geneva summit in June about arranging additional contact between the two leaders. Biden (L) and Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Peter Klaunzer/Pool/Keystone via Getty Images