Biden and Putin hold high-stakes Geneva summit

By Peter Wilkinson, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Nick Thompson, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0841 GMT (1641 HKT) June 17, 2021
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4:32 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Biden gave Putin a pair of custom aviator sunglasses

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden gifted Russian President Vladimir Putin with a pair of custom aviator sunglasses, according to a White House official.

"President Biden also gifted President Putin a pair of custom Aviators made by Randolph USA. In 1978, Randolph joined forces with the US military to produce the HGU-4/P Aviator designed for fighter pilots. They have since provided the US military and NATO partners with their high-level, durable aviators, manufactured domestically in their Massachusetts factory," the official noted.

Biden also gave Putin a crystal sculpture of an American Bison by Steuben Glass of New York.

"A stately interpretation of one of our nation’s most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, resilience. In 2016, it was officially named the national mammal of the United States when the Obama-Biden Administration signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law. In Russia, over the past 20 years, European bison were reintroduced by rewilding numerous sites after their extinction in 1927. The sculpture will be presented on a cherry wood base, symbolic of our nation’s first president, George Washington, with a custom engraved inscription plaque commemorating the meeting between President Biden and President Putin," the official said.

4:32 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

White House officials not surprised by Putin's press conference performance

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

White House officials say they are not surprised by Vladimir Putin's equivocal, denial-filled performance at his press conference, noting his language is unchanged from when he is pressed on issues of cybercrime, human rights and Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden did not enter the talks believing he would magically be able to change Putin’s rhetoric, much less his behavior, an official says. They watched his press conference closely and took note of places where Biden might need to respond.

 But they had some plans already in place given the expectation Putin would use his appearance to turn around and put questions on human rights back on the United States.

1:16 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Putin displayed his "classic" whataboutism play, Trump's former top Russia adviser says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin displayed his “classic” whataboutism play at the news conference after his meeting with US President Joe Biden concluded, former Top Russia Adviser to President Trump Fiona Hill said.

“His tone was dispassionate and matter of fact and slightly cynical,” she said. “This whataboutism is a classic Putin play as well, just turning every question back to either to the questioner or also to things that are happening in the United States or whichever country that he's meeting with.”

Hill said it was clear that Putin wanted to keep the tone “generally cordial.”

“There was no chest thumping about the meeting,” she added.

The big takeaway from Hill: Putin will not let up on the dirty tricks or on the whataboutism. This is at least a start to try to get some kind of anchor in the relationship to set the tone on the stage for other meetings.

12:40 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Putin: Summit was "productive, substantive, concrete"

After their talks were over, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his meeting with US President Joe Biden was "productive" on the whole.

"It was substantive, concrete and took place in an atmosphere that was aimed at achieving results,” he told reporters Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

12:40 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Putin: Biden did not invite me to the White House

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden did not invite Vladimir Putin to the White House, the Russian president said Wednesday, saying the conditions have to be right for such a meeting.

Putin described the summit with Biden as “constructive.”

Putin again said he did not remember an encounter when Biden was vice-president a decade ago in which Biden reportedly said he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw no soul.

12:29 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Putin cites Black Lives Matter and Capitol riot when asked about crackdowns on Russian opposition

Asked Wednesday in Geneva about the Russian crackdown on Alexey Navalny’s organizations and supporters, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by talking about the Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the United States and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

“We sympathize with what is happening in the states, but we do not wish that to happen in Russia,” Putin said.
12:17 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Here's what Putin said about Alexey Navalny

Journalists watch Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during a press conference from a media center in Geneva.
Journalists watch Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during a press conference from a media center in Geneva. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Alexey Navalny returned to Russia in order to be detained, knowing he had broken the law — again refusing to say the opposition activist’s name aloud.

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

Putin repeated the official Russian position that Navalny had violated bail conditions by going abroad while unconscious after apparent Novichok poisoning last year, and failing to check in with Russian legal officers as required. 

“He consciously ignored the requirements of the law,” Putin said.

Putin continued: “The gentleman in question went abroad for treatment. 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]?"

12:16 p.m. ET, June 16, 2021

Putin: US and Russia to begin consultations on cybersecurity

Denis Balibouse/Pool/AP
Denis Balibouse/Pool/AP

The United States and Russia are going to begin consultations on cybersecurity, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday following his summit with US President Joe Biden.

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

“We believe that the cyberspace is extraordinarily important. In general, and in particular for the US, and to the same extent for Russia,” Putin said in response to a question from CNN’s Matthew Chance. 

Although Putin conceded that the United States was the victim of the greatest number of cyberattacks, he said that Russia was also a victim. 

“We encounter this every year. For example, one of the health systems in a very important part of Russia was attacked. So, it means that this work is being coordinated,” Putin said. “In the US, I don't think that the US administration is particularly interested in organizing that or looking into it. All they do is to make insinuations. What we need is expert consultations between us. We agreed to that, in principle, Russia is prepared for that.”

11:59 a.m. ET, June 16, 2021

US and Russian ambassadors will return to their posts, Putin says

The US and Russian ambassadors will return to their diplomatic posts and take up their functions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The question of when that would happen is a “purely technical one,” he said.