On June 16 in Geneva, the Russian and American heads of state met for the first time. A summit at the end of which Vladimir Poutine answered questions from journalists present on site.
After his first meeting with the President of the United States Joseph Biden, Vladimir Poutine held a press conference during which he shared the wide spectrum of subjects he had just discussed with his American counterpart.
A “pragmatic” and “fruitful” meeting
While refraining from making predictions on a possible improvement in bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington, the Russian president described Joseph Biden as a constructive and experienced partner, assuring that the two leaders had spoken “the same language” and describing the summit. of the day of “pragmatic and fruitful”.
The two heads of state, for example, agreed on the return of their respective ambassadors, recalled earlier this year for consultations. “They are going back to their duty station. When exactly, it is a purely technical question ”, declared Vladimir Poutine.
Asked about a possible improvement in relations between Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin referred to Leo Tolstoy, explaining that there was no eternal happiness in life but that his lightnings were very precious. “We can not speak of confidence but flashes have arisen, that’s a good thing,” he said after his interview with Joseph Biden.
Putin, human rights and the Navalny affair
Explaining today to be satisfied with the explanations of Joseph Biden – who qualified him in March of “killer” -, the Russian president indicated that he had discussed with his American counterpart of the human rights. During his press conference, questioned by an American journalist on the imprisonment and death of Russian opponents, Vladimir Poutine estimated that such problems could arise “in all countries”.
We don’t want what happened on Capitol Hill to happen in Russia
For example, he returned to the intrusion, on January 6, of American demonstrators on Capitol Hill. “400 people are now threatened with prison because they are declared terrorists from within. Some are currently in prison and it is not clear why, ”he added, recalling also that the episode had resulted in the death of several people. “We don’t want what happened on Capitol Hill to happen in Russia,” added Vladimir Poutine.
In any case, the Russian head of state stressed that the accusations against Russia in the area of human rights were purely “political”, explaining that he too could, if he wanted to, denounce the existence of political murders on American soil or even torture in Guantanamo and in other CIA prisons: “Is that what human rights?” he asked.
Returning further to the demonstrations linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Russian president said: “What we have seen is disorder, disruption, violations of the law, etc. We have sympathy for the United States of America, but we do not want this to happen in our territory and we will do all we can to ensure that it does not happen … “
Asked to speak precisely on the Navalny case, which is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in Russia, Vladimir Putin said at a press conference that the opponent Alexeï Navalny knew he was breaking Russian law , and that he would be detained on his return to Russia in January, but that he had decided to come anyway. As a reminder, the Russian justice revoked last February the suspension of a sentence dating back to 2014 for embezzlement in the Russian subsidiary of the French group Yves Rocher. The opponent was found guilty of multiple violations of the conditions of judicial review required by this suspended sentence.
The inevitable question of cyber attacks
Vladimir Putin assured that he had agreed with his American counterpart on “consultations on cybersecurity”, the two countries accusing each other of a multitude of cyberattacks. Believing that the greatest number of cyberattacks in the world came from the American space, the Russian president also criticized the absence of cooperation until then, in the matter, on behalf of Washington.
As a reminder, the theme of cyberattacks returns as a leitmotif conflict between the two countries. In May, Washington suspected Russian hackers in cyberattacks targeting the global meat giant JBS and the operator of a huge US pipeline in the United States. During an intervention at the Saint Petersburg Forum on June 4, Vladimir Poutine had already assured that Moscow was not behind these malicious acts, evoking “absurd” accusations: “The competent American services must find the extortionist. It is certainly not Russia, ”he then urged the Pervy Kanal channel.
The Ukrainian case
“The Minsk agreements should be at the heart of the settlement in Ukraine, Biden agrees with that,” said the Russian president, before adding: “Regarding the obligations vis-à-vis the Ukraine, we have only one obligation: to promote the implementation of the Minsk agreements. If the Ukrainian side is ready for this, we will follow this path, without a doubt. ”
Vladimir Poutine, however, denounced the Ukrainian strategy as being “out of step with the Minsk commitments”.
He accused Kiev of violating an agreement aimed at ending the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. As for the subject of the possible accession of Ukraine to NATO, he affirmed that the question had been tackled “quickly” during the meeting with Joseph Biden, specifying: “There is nothing to discuss” .
The effect of US sanctions
“There are opponents and supporters of the development of relations with Russia, which forces will prevail?” Asked Vladimir Poutine on the question of the extension of American sanctions against Russia. The Russian president added that the losses of the United States due to the sanctions were not less than those of Russia, stressing that Moscow did not impose measures first.
Vladimir Putin further said that Western sanctions had already prompted some American companies to leave Russia and turn their businesses over to rivals.
Towards a consolidation of certain treaties?
“You managed to mix everything up,” Vladimir Putin smiled to a BBC journalist who had just asked him if he intended to put an end to Russia’s “unpredictability” on the international scene. “I return the ball to you,” continued the Russian president, citing examples of American withdrawals from several treaties, including that on intermediate-range nuclear forces. “Do you think we’re unpredictable?” I don’t think so, we are reacting to threats that arise, ”he added.
“Thank goodness Joseph Biden has decided to extend the New Start treaty [traité de réduction des armes stratégiques qui limite le nombre d’ogives nucléaires, de missiles et de bombardiers que la Russie et les Etats-Unis peuvent déployer], it is very reasonable for the next five years ”, declared the Russian president again, affirming that Moscow and Washington had agreed to launch negotiations on the control of nuclear weapons in order to support the treaty in question, cornerstone of the global arms control.
As reported by Reuters, the two parties have indeed adopted a joint declaration, reaffirming their commitment to “the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it must never be waged”.
The Arctic: a source of tension
“Russia and the United States are among the eight member countries of the Arctic Council, we must unite our efforts regarding the use of the Far North trade route. We, Russia, intend to fully abide by the standards of international maritime law, ”said Vladimir Poutine on the subject. He added that US concerns about Russia’s militarization of the Arctic were unfounded.
In any case, intercontinental trade routes present sizeable geopolitical challenges, especially for Russia, which has invested heavily in the development of the Northern Sea Route. Its main asset: allowing ships to drastically reduce their journey time between Europe and Asia compared to other routes such as the Suez Canal.
Nevertheless, the Russian president wanted to be optimistic and declared during his press conference that there was “not a single problem” that the Russian Federation and the United States could not solve together.