US President Joe Biden’s remarks at the start of his summit with Vladimir Putin included describing the US and Russia as “two great powers,” a notable elevation of Moscow’s status as he works to create a more stable relationship.
In the past, the US has tried to downplay Moscow’s global role. Former President Obama once described Russia as a “regional power” after it invaded Ukraine.
The context of Biden’s remark wasn’t clear, because background noise made hearing his remarks almost impossible. But he was discussing broadly the importance of meeting face-to-face to establish a better working relationship.
Biden’s remarks during the photo-op were mostly obscured by jostling by the press. Putin’s remarks were more audible.
At one point, Biden seemed to ask Secretary of State Antony Blinken what was happening. Eventually he seemed to just stop speaking, aware he wasn’t being heard.
“I think it’s always better to meet face to face,” he said.
American reporters who were able to enter the meeting said they asked three questions of Biden and Putin in the spray. One asked Putin if he feared opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Another asked what he would do if Ukraine joined NATO. And another asked Biden if he trusted Putin.
Biden seemed to nod and look down at his papers as the questions were being shouted; US officials said afterward he was not nodding in response to any particular question.
A scrum of reporters had gathered outside the summit site to try accessing the photo-op. Aides screamed at the group to settle itself, but photojournalists and reporters scuffled as they scrambled to get inside the Villa la Grange.
Reporters described frenzied moments inside the meeting room, with shouting and pushing, before reporters were pushed out. One reporter described being shoved to the ground in the fray.