President Joe Biden said he agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assessment that U.S.-Russia relations are at a low point.
“Let me make it clear I think he’s right it’s a low point, and it depends on how he responds to acting consistent with international norms, which in many cases he has not,” Biden told reporters at the conclusion of a Group of Seven (G-7) leaders’ meeting in the UK.
The president was referring to a comment made by Putin last week to NBC News where he said, “We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.”
Biden said the United States will not try to facilitate a conflict with Russia, saying that the two nations can try to reach agreements on certain, key issues.
“We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together, we may be able to do that in terms of some strategic doctrine that may be able to be worked together, we’re ready to do it. There may be other areas. There is even talk there may be the ability to work together on climate,” Biden told reporters Sunday.
In recent months, the United States has slapped sanctions on Moscow over its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyberattack that affected multiple federal agencies as well as Russia’s alleged interference in recent U.S. elections.
Biden also responded to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration staffer, in March when he asked if he thinks Putin is “a killer.” Biden replied, “I do.”
During his NBC News interview last week, Putin said Biden’s comment is “not something I worry about in the least.”
“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness and none of it surprises me,” Putin said.
Next week, the president is slated to hold a meeting with Putin. The two leaders, however, will not attend a press conference together, a move that Biden defended.
“This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other,” Biden said oon Sunday. “It’s about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship with Russia.”
In 2018, Trump appeared alongside Putin during a news conference that was criticized by mainstream news outlets, coming in the backdrop of allegations that the former president colluded with the Kremlin to win the presidency in 2016, which Trump has long decried as a “witch hunt.” It was later found, however, that Trump’s campaign didn’t conspire with Putin, according to an investigation from former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Biden added to reporters: “I don’t want to get into being diverted by ‘did they shake hands, how far did they, who talked the most’ and the rest. Now he can say what he said the meeting was about and I will say what I think the meeting was about. That’s how I’m going to handle it.”
The two leaders are slated to meet on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland.