Vladimir Putin did not look into Joe Biden's soul.
He answered that early on Wednesday evening in Geneva with a small smile from a journalist.
When he appeared before the press after three and a half hours of the Russian-American summit, he also said: They spoke the same language.
However, he was standing alone in front of the cameras.
Separate press conferences had been agreed prior to the meeting, so neither Biden nor Putin had to make it too clear that one might understand what the other was saying - but nevertheless see things completely differently on many topics.
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Biden, for example, could not possibly have stood still when Putin described the United States as a country in decline, where one could not be sure of one's life because of daily murders, with conditions that he did not want to tear down in Russia.
But Putin began with the greatest and only tangible success of the summit: the ambassadors of the United States and Russia are to be sent back to the other country after the spiral of escalation that had led to the practical end of diplomatic relations since March.
An agreement on this matter had emerged shortly before the summit, when it was said that the two ambassadors would also take part.
"No agenda against Russia"
The American president used the first few minutes for another message. On the last appearance after his week-long European tour, Biden pleaded for the United States: “I told Putin that we have no agenda against Russia or anyone else. We have one for the Americans. ”The prosecution of human rights violations is not just about Russia, but about“ who we are ”. With every line Biden emphasized: Everything is different than after the meeting of the American and Russian presidents in Helsinki in July 2018. At that time, Donald Trump and Putin stood in front of the press together, the Russian first duped the American and finally maneuvered Trump into to turn against their own secret services.
Even before this summit, both presidents had given assurances that Russian-American relations had reached a low point. But at lunchtime in Geneva it was already a good omen that Putin shook hands with Swiss President Guy Parmelin at 1 p.m. in front of Villa La Grange. Because the Russian President keeps his interlocutors waiting, whether the Pope or the British Queen. The American President Joe Biden was only a quarter of an hour later, according to plan, in the mansion of Parc de La Grange. Talks of four or five hours had been announced - possibly even longer, according to Moscow. In fact, Biden and Putin were then ahead of schedule.
The first conversation in a small group on Wednesday afternoon lasted an hour and a half. In the full program of the day there were expressly no meals together - only discussions. In the second round, after a twenty-minute break, Biden and Putin met for another hour and a half with an expanded group of their delegations. They each consisted of eight people. On the Russian side, in addition to the ambassadors, Putin's special envoy for Ukraine and Syria were present, while media reports on the Americans included the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the former ambassador in Moscow, John Sullivan.