Biden-Poutine summit: the return of the "red lines" during a meeting without surprises

Vladmir Poutine and Joe Biden on June 16, 2021 in Geneva.

AP - Peter Klaunzer

Text by: RFI Follow

4 min

Three and a half hours of discussions, a quick handshake, separate press conferences, the Biden Poutine summit took place as planned yesterday, Wednesday June 16, on the shores of Lake Geneva in Geneva.

The exchanges were "constructive", assure the American and Russian presidents.

Concretely, the two leaders have agreed to return their respective ambassadors to their posts, but many questions remain unanswered.


Read more

This summit contrasts in any case, with that of 2018, when Donald Trump met Vladimir Poutin in Helsinki, says 

Vincent Souriau


our special envoy in Geneva


The Helsinki episode had traumatized the American state apparatus.

At the time, there were charges of Russian interference in the US presidential campaign, and Donald Trump, against all odds, disowned his own intelligence services and defended Vladimir Putin.

What was obvious yesterday is that the Biden administration wanted to reset the counters to zero.

First on the form: no joint press conference.

The Kremlin proposed it but Washington did not want it.

We avoid improvisation, surprises and smiles of complicity.

Red lines

Then on the bottom, there are the famous red lines.

Joe Biden repeated it yesterday, human rights will always be on the table between the United States and Russia.

Regarding US sovereignty, if the Russians try to destabilize our elections again, Putin knows that "

I will take action 

," Biden said.

And cyber attacks: if they continue, “ 

we will fight back


In short, the White House is returning to normal.

To a clear position vis-à-vis Russia.

However, this is not synonymous with results.

We saw, yesterday, that Vladimir Putin remained straight in his boots, whether it was about Navalny or his foreign policy.

But the ambassadors return and the dialogue resumes on an equal footing.

We closed the Trump parenthesis.

Russian press welcomes positive and friendly atmosphere

This morning, the Russian press welcomes the positive and friendly atmosphere of this first meeting between the two men, says

our correspondent in Moscow,

Daniel Vallot

. Two points are highlighted by the Russian newspapers: the return of the ambassadors to their respective posts and the announcement of negotiations on the control of nuclear weapons. The daily

Vedomosti also

underlines one of the sentences from the joint statement published on the Kremlin website: "

Today we reaffirm the principle according to which there can be no winner in a nuclear war

 ". This formula, notes


, had already been used in 1985 at the end of the Geneva summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachev.

Mikhael Gorbachev who himself was interviewed last night by the Interfax agency and who considered

 the results of this summit


". "

 These talks are a first step towards strategic stability 

" declared the former Soviet leader. This dialogue, these consultations on arms control will therefore begin shortly, but no date has been set. When the return of the ambassadors, it should be done by the end of the month according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov interviewed by Russian agencies.

In summary, the tone this morning here in Moscow is rather positive, but without much enthusiasm.


We go back five years, when the American Democratic Party decided to blame Russia for its humiliating defeat to Trump,

 ” writes the popular

Moskovsky Komsomolets


, “

 we have lost five years

, the newspaper concluded,

but the important is that we put an end to this negative spiral between us and the Americans 


To read also: Biden-Poutine summit: a "constructive" meeting but without notable announcement


Receive all international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application


  • United States

  • Russia

  • Swiss

  • Vladimir Poutine

  • Joe biden

  • Diplomacy

On the same subject

Biden-Putin summit: the limited ambitions of Russian diplomacy

The Sergey Lavrov-Antony Blinken meeting, the cornerstone of a Putin-Biden summit


Biden-Poutin summit: a purely symbolic meeting?