New Cold War 'in nobody's interest': Biden sees ‘genuine prospect to improve relations' with Russia after Putin summit

US President Joe Biden says he thinks there is a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations" with Russia following a summit with Vladimir Putin. The two leaders talked face to face for aroun

New Cold War 'in nobody's interest': Biden sees ‘genuine prospect to improve relations' with Russia after Putin summit

US President Joe Biden says he thinks there is a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations" with Russia following a summit with Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders talked face to face for around four hours in Switzerland - shorter than Mr Biden's advisers had said they expected - but he later admitted the pair did not need to spend more time talking.

Speaking at a solo news conference, Mr Biden said he told President Putin he will always raise issues of "fundamental human rights", including jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and two Americans "wrongfully imprisoned" in Russia.

He insisted "human rights are always going to be on the table".

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No hostility with Biden meeting - Putin

And in perhaps his strongest remark, Mr Biden, 78, said the consequences would be "devastating for Russia" if Mr Navalny, who has recovered from a hunger strike protest against his detention conditions, died.

The Russian leader earlier said in his own news briefing that Mr Navalny got what he deserved, as he defended the jail sentence.

Mr Navalny was poisoned with the novichok nerve agent in Russia, blamed on the Kremlin, which it denies.

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Mr Putin said the opposition leader knew he would be detained when he returned to Russia from Germany, after having hospital treatment, but came anyway.

Mr Biden told reporters the discussions had been intense and detailed and "I did what I came here to do", adding the "last thing he (Putin) wants now is a Cold War".

But he claimed the Russian leader "is not ready to lay down his arms" as he is "concerned about being encircled and that the US wants to take him down".

He said a new Cold War is in "nobody's interest", adding the US-Russia relationship must be stable.

In a joint statement released after the summit, the two men reaffirmed their commitment to arms control.

Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the US-Russia summit
Image: Mr Putin said the conversation was 'constructive'

"The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," the statement said.

Mr Biden also said he thought there was a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations between the countries without us giving up a single thing based on principle and values".

He said there were no threats at the summit at a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, just simple assertions made.

And he said there was "no substitute for face-to-face dialogue", as he had told Mr Putin his agenda was "not against Russia" but "for the American people".

President Joe Biden gestures to reporters before leaving Geneva on Air Force One
Image: President Joe Biden gestures to reporters before leaving Geneva on Air Force One

The US president added the two leaders spent a great deal of time on cyber security and he told Mr Putin that critical infrastructure should be off-limits for attacks, giving him a list of 16 strategic sectors, as they agreed to more talks on this subject.

Mr Biden also said they will have additional discussions on the pursuit of criminals carrying out ransomware attacks.

And he said both men, appearing together for the first time since 2011, agreed to work to ensure Iran does not get nuclear weapons.

Mr Putin, 68, earlier told his news conference that there was no hostility at the "constructive" summit.

He said he saw a "glimpse of hope" for mutual trust with the US, describing the discussions also as pragmatic and fruitful.

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Putin and Biden meet in Geneva

In one of the main developments, Mr Putin said he and Mr Biden have agreed to return their ambassadors to their respective posts in each other's capitals in an attempt to lower tensions.

The conversation was constructive, the Russian claimed, describing his counterpart as a "very experienced partner".

But he cautioned there was "no friendship" as both leaders were defending the interests of their countries, adding: "I have no illusions about the US."

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Russia's View: Exclusive interview with Putin

Prior to the summit, Mr Biden, who instigated the Geneva talks, has repeatedly called out Mr Putin for malicious cyberattacks allegedly by Russian-based hackers on US interests.

But Mr Putin hit back, saying at the news conference that cyberattacks on Russia are coming from the US.

And he continued to deny US allegations the Russian government was behind a spate of high-profile hacks against American agencies.

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Biden: Putin is a worthy adversary

On the Ukraine conflict, President Putin accused Kiev of breaking the terms of a ceasefire agreement.

And Mr Putin batted away a question about his crackdown on political rivals by changing the subject to what he said was disorder in America around the storming of the US Capitol and Black Lives Matter.

Mr Putin said he did not want to see riots in Russia or a movement akin to BLM.

Mr Biden later called the comparison "ridiculous".