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Biden, Putin hold 'positive’ summit but divisions remain over human rights, cyberattacks, Ukraine

President Biden spoke to reporters in Geneva following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16, saying the meeting had a positive tone. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post, Photo: AP/The Washington Post)

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from their summit Wednesday with the Russian leader deeming it “constructive” and the U.S. president calling it “positive.” But back-to-back news conferences made clear that the two sides remain at odds over human rights, cyberattacks and Ukraine.

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Biden said he raised the case of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny as well as two “wrongly imprisoned” Americans held in Russia. “The bottom line is I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by,” Biden told reporters after his first face-to-face meeting as president with Putin.

Here’s what to know:

  • In an earlier news conference, Putin called the talks “quite constructive” and said he and Biden agreed to return their ambassadors to their respective posts in Washington and Moscow. Putin also said he and Biden had reached an agreement to start discussions on cybersecurity.
  • The White House felt compelled Wednesday to clarify what Biden intended to convey with a nod during the opening moments of the meeting with Putin. Biden was not responding to a reporter’s question about whether he trusts Putin, aides said.
  • Putin’s trip to Switzerland marked the first time the Russian president has traveled outside Russia in more than a year in response to the pandemic.