As President Joe Biden wrapped up his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, the U.S. leader was played by his Kremlin counterpart who in turn, denied the entire premise of the meeting between the two world powers.
Speaking to reporters after, Biden said the two engaged in productive talks where the American president handed Putin a list of 16 entities “off-limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means,” after the a ransomware attack which compromised the Colonial Pipeline last month was found to come from Russia. The attack shut down the United States’ largest pipeline for five-days leading to gas outages in 14 states and declared states of emergency in 17.
“So we agreed to task our experts in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what’s off limits, and to follow up on specific cases that originate in either of our countries,” Biden said. “I looked at him and said ‘how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields.’ He said it would matter.”
Biden went on to take questions from a list of pre-selected reporters “as usual,” where he claimed the meeting made substantial progress in the bilateral relations with the U.S. and Russia that would, in turn, deter subsequent cyberattacks on American entities.
Putin on the other hand, reportedly left the meeting and again denied any Russian involvement in the ransomware attacks to hit the U.S. in a separate press conference.
“We have to put aside any insinuations,” Putin said, of Russian involvement behind ransomware plaguing American systems. “We know about the cyberattack on the American pipeline … but was does Russia have to do with it?”
After the entire point of the meeting from Biden’s perspective was to establish “guardrails” on peacetime infrastructure attacks, Putin walked out and denied its entire premise.
Biden later lost his temper when CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed the president on what made him confidant Putin would change his behavior.
“What do you do all the time?” Biden said, rejecting Collins’ assertion. “When did I say I was confident?”
“Given his past behavior has not changed,” Collins said, “and in that press conference after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny’s name, so how does that account to a constructive meeting?”
Biden snapped again before stepping out.
“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden said.
Biden gave Putin the gift of U.S. approval for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany just days after the attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the run-up to the summit. Russian fuel will now flow into the European market and likely erode American energy diplomacy as the Biden administration forfeits new pipelines stateside.