Defensive Putin calls Biden summit "constructive," but blames U.S. for tensions

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference following the meetings, according to a translator.

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Highlights

Cyber: Putin said the two sides had agreed to open "consultations" on cyberattacks, which he said was critically important. He also claimed most cyberattacks currently taking place were being carried out from the U.S.

Arms control: Putin praised Biden's decision to agree to extend the New START nuclear treaty, and said the U.S. State Department and Russia Foreign Ministry would be opening working level discussions on "the whole question of what will happen after that" on nuclear security.

Ukraine: Putin said the leaders discussed Ukraine, but did not offer any details or conclusions beyond his insistence that the Minsk agreements be implemented to end the war in Donbass. He later accused the U.S. of having an "unpredictable foreign policy" — a charge often leveled at Russia — by supporting a "bloody coup d'etat" in Ukraine in 2014.

Navalny: Putin refused to say the jailed Kremlin critic's name and attacked him for "knowingly" violating his parole by leaving Russia to receive treatment in Germany after his poisoning.

  • Navalny was in a coma at the time due to a nerve agent attack that U.S. intelligence says was carried out by Russian agents. He is now serving out a sentence in a Russian penal colony.

  • Pressed further about the Kremlin's designation of Navalny's political network as "extremist," Putin accused the opposition leader of fomenting revolution and compared the potential for street violence to "terrible events" that occurred during Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the U.S.

Human rights: Putin said he and Biden discussed human rights and noted that Biden's "predecessor" — Donald Trump — had a "different view" on the matter. He went on to attack the U.S. for its own human rights record, pointing to Guantanamo Bay and gun violence.

  • Putin lashed out at a reporter who asked why all of his political opponents were dead, in prison or poisoned, and suggested that the U.S. government is prosecuting the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters because they marched to Congress with "political demands."

The big picture: On whether the summit had opened the door to a "new stage" in U.S.-Russia relations, Putin said it's "difficult to say" and that "everything to do with the deterioration of our mutual relations was initiated not by us but by the USA."

  • He then added: "There's no happiness in life. There's only a mirage on the horizon, so we'll cherish that."

  • Putin said Biden did not invite him to the White House, but called the U.S. president a "balanced and professional man." He added: "I believe that for such meetings and visits to happen, there should be conditions that should be ripe."

What's next: Biden will be holding a press conference after Putin concludes.

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