Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Joe Biden and said Moscow is ready for further talks with Washington in comments made a day after its summit with its US counterpart, a meeting the Kremlin has valued as positive.
“We are ready to continue this dialogue to the same extent as the American side,” Putin said after returning home from Wednesday’s meeting in Geneva, speaking with university graduates via a video link.
Putin, 68, only had warm words for Biden, 78, in contrast to Russian state media who have sometimes portrayed the president of the United States as struggling to do his job both physically and mentally.
Putin described the atmosphere of the talks as friendly and praised Biden’s professionalism. He said the American leader knew what he wanted to achieve and that he acted “with skill.”
“I mean, the image of President Biden that paints our press and even the American press has nothing in common with reality,” Putin told graduates.
“He was on a long journey, he had flown across the ocean and he had to fight jet lag and the time difference. When I do I want to pass bill. But it seemed cheerful, we talked face to face for two or maybe more hours. He has his writing completely.
“Biden is a professional and you have to be very careful when working with him to make sure you don’t miss anything. It doesn’t lack anything, I can assure you ”.
During their few-hour summit, the first between the two leaders since Biden took office in January, leaders pledged to hold regular negotiations to try to lay the groundwork for future arms control agreements and return their respective ambassadors to their offices.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, will resume his duties in Washington next week after being temporarily retired from March, Interfax news agency said on Thursday.
“One more sign”
Putin’s statements on Thursday came hours after the Kremlin praised the outcome of the summit, but also warned that there were still important points of disagreement between Moscow and Washington.
Prior to the talks, both sides had said that great strides were unlikely in relation to post-Cold War minimums.
“From the beginning, we warned against exaggerated expectations regarding this summit,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told radio station Ekho Moskvy. “But now we can say, based primarily on the president’s own assessment, that it was more with one more sign.”
Peskov especially praised the commitment to the dialogue on “strategic stability” and arms control.
“Although it is a very short text … the joint statement on strategic stability carries out the special responsibility of our two countries not only towards our people, but towards the whole world,” he said.
During the summit, both sides rejected the possibility of a nuclear war, which was, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, a moment of “true success.”
Ryabkov told the Russian newspaper Kommersant that the measure was “Washington’s second step in restoring common sense and a responsible approach to key aspects of international security” following the extension of the new START nuclear treaty under Biden in early ‘this year.
New START is the last remaining arms reduction pact between the two nuclear states, which together own more than 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal.
Ryabkov said he hoped the dialogue on strategic stability would be initiated on “weeks, not months” issues.
Sounding a cautionary note, Peskov highlighted areas of dispute, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and the role of NATO, the transatlantic security alliance to which Biden has once again committed Washington.
He said that Ukrainian membership in NATO would be a “red line” for Moscow and that he was concerned about the conversation that someday an action plan for membership could be granted to Kiev after a recent saving of ‘hostilities in the conflict-affected east, where government forces have been fighting since 2014 against Russian-backed separatists.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday he wanted a clear “yes” or “no” from Biden in giving Ukraine a plan to join the alliance.
Biden said Ukraine needed to eliminate corruption and meet other criteria before it could join.
At a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday after the summit, Putin said it was “difficult to say” whether relations between the United States and Russia would improve, but that there was a “vision of hope.”
He called Biden a constructive and experienced partner and said they spoke “the same language.” But he added that there had been no friendship, but a pragmatic dialogue on the interests of the two countries.
“The meeting was really very efficient,” Putin said. “It was substantive, it was specific. It was aimed at achieving results and one of them was pushing the boundaries of trust ”.
Biden told reporters at a post-summit press conference that he had exposed U.S. interests to Putin and made it clear that Washington would respond if Russia violated those concerns.