There was no talk of gazing into Vladimir Putin’s “soul” and the Russian president didn’t try to gaslight a rookie US leader.
Instead, Putin’s first summit with the fifth US president of his tenure, Joe Biden, was about mutual respect — and the meeting in Geneva could, both of them said, lead to a more predictable, if still tense, relationship.
In contrast to his predecessors, Biden made no suggestion he expected to reset the relationship and he has already piled pressure on Russia over concerns including alleged election meddling and attacks by cybercriminals against the Colonial Pipeline and other US infrastructure.
But after earlier remarks that included calling Putin “a killer,” Biden on the eve of the summit described the Russian leader as “a worthy adversary” and at a news conference afterward said that they would see where they had common interests.
On the other hand, Putin called Biden “a very experienced politician.”