In his first overseas diplomatic trip, President Joe Biden appeared to offer a rosy take on the possibilities of cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a one-on-one summit.
“I’m going to drive you all crazy because I know you want me to always put a negative thrust on things, particularly in public,” he said in a meta-analysis of reporters shortly before boarding Air Force One, adding, that way, “you guarantee nothing happens.”
But bubbling beneath the surface during the meeting was a tense and, oftentimes, catty rivalry marked by stark philosophical differences and leadership styles, with both world leaders throwing elbows during separate press conferences as they angled for the upper hand, Infowars reported.
“I wanted President Putin to understand why I say what I say and why I do what I do,” Biden ambled in a post-summit teleprompter address.
The buildup to the highly watched exchange included Putin taking recent jabs at Biden’s depleted memory when asked about a claim that Biden had accused him of lacking a soul at their previous encounter during the Obama administration.
Putin continued the offensive on Wednesday by calling out what he saw as a weak US stance on human rights issues in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter-led race riots.
China had made similar claims during bilateral talks with Biden’s secretary of State, Tony Blinken, with both of the rival superpowers ironically deflecting from their own offenses in the human-rights department.
PUTIN: America had to deal with some terrible events after the killing of the African American. Black Lives Matter ensued. I don’t want to make any judgments about that and its mass violations of the law, but we do not wish this in our territory. pic.twitter.com/QVmpFVxJHj
— August Takala (@AugustTakala) June 16, 2021
Biden called it a “ridiculous comparison,” though it was clear some damage couldn’t be swiftly undone.
The ex-KGB chief, who is suspected of having murdered a number of political dissidents in the past, also drew a tongue-in-cheek parallel to Ashli Babbitt, the lone homicide victim in the Jan. 6 US Capitol uprising, who was killed by an unidentified police officer protecting the Speaker’s Lobby.
“We have no desire to allow the same thing to happen in our country,” Putin coyly remarked.
Putin comments on the events of January 6th and the death of Ashli Babbitt when asked about his political opponents who are dead or in prison:
“We have no desire to allow the same thing to happen in our country.” pic.twitter.com/BpW3zvwL9H
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) June 16, 2021
In addition to Babbitt’s death, he noted the targeting of more than 400 other political prisoners, some of whom the Biden Justice Department has boasted of keeping indefinitely detained, in violation of their constitutional rights.
REPORTER: “The list of your political opponents who are dead, prisoned, or jailed is long… What are you so afraid of?”
Putin goes on to compare arresting his political opponents to arresting the Jan 6 Capitol rioters. pic.twitter.com/X8TAC1s7mk
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 16, 2021
Biden began his week-long trip with an awkward visit to the G7 meeting in Cornwall, during which he declared “I don’t want to go home.”
He once again appeared to come down harder on his domestic political rivals than his global adversaries—although he struggled to differentiate the two at times, even nearly referring to Putin as “President Trump.”
NOW – Biden almost refers to President Putin as President Trump. pic.twitter.com/BPQM2kghkQ
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) June 16, 2021
But while he struggled with his words, Biden held steadfast on his party’s talking points, repeating debunked narratives to justify the actions taken against those who entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6 uprising.
That included an abject falsehood, already refuted by the DC medical examiner and corrected by the far-left New York Times, which blamed Trump supporters for the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.
Sicknick was revealed to have died of a stroke following the days events.
NOW – Biden just repeated the narrative that Capitol rioters “killed a police officer”. Police officer Sicknick died of natural causes the day after January 6, per medical examiner.pic.twitter.com/6yYVpP1HDR
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) June 16, 2021
American media covering the meeting, including the Associated Press, nonetheless laid cover for the president, glossing over some of the more awkward episodes and downplaying the tensions.
“They conveyed both a mutual respect and a mutual skepticism,” claimed the AP’s Zeke Miller, one of the go-to reporters on the White House’s pre-approved list of sympathetic journalists.
“It was an abrupt return to more conventional U.S.-Russia framing after the presidency of Donald Trump, who often seemed to elevate Putin and create at least the aspiration that the countries could be more like partners,” sniped Miller. “This time, each leader left with the understanding that some of the old rules still apply.”
Although media often hammered former president Donald Trump for his optimistic outlook in diplomacy, claiming he was cozying up to despotic leaders like Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, they appeared to shrug off Biden’s apparent capitulation.
Throughout his trip, most of Biden’s meetings were conducted in private, without cameras, or with only a few moments open to media.
It marked a clear departure in style from Trump, whose public meetings with global leaders became something of legend on the international stage. Relationships tended to flow one way—with obsequious public displays by heads of state and government trying to get on Trump’s good side.
Biden is banking that those leaders will welcome a return to the “old school” approach.
“I know we make foreign policy out to be this great, great skill that somehow is sort of like a secret code,” Biden said. “All foreign policy is a logical extension of personal relationships. It’s the way human nature functions.”
He later added, “There’s a value to being realistic and to put on an optimistic front, an optimistic face.”
In the wake of a series of disruptive cyberattacks that have emanated from Russia, Biden claimed he had pressed Putin in private to curtail criminal and state-sponsored activity from his country by warning of American digital firepower and his willingness to deploy it.
He claimed to have given Putin a list of 16 “critical infrastructure” sectors, from the energy industry to water systems, and that the leaders agreed to task experts “to work on specific understandings about what’s off-limits” in this new domain.
Even as Biden said of Putin, “I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War,” Biden said he broached with Putin and his top advisers the possibility of a cyberattack taking down one of their oil pipelines and the devastating impact it could have on their energy-dependent economy.
Biden said Putin was well aware that the U.S. has “significant cyber capability.” “He doesn’t know exactly what it is, but it’s significant, and if in fact they violate these basic norms, we will respond, he knows, in a cyber way.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press