By all appearances, President Biden’s much-anticipated meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was not heat, however neither was it sizzling.
As he turned the fifth American president to take a seat down with Mr. Putin, Mr. Biden on Wednesday made an effort to forge a working relationship shorn of the ingratiating flattery of his quick predecessor but with out the belligerent language that he himself has employed concerning the Russian chief up to now.
If their opening encounter in Geneva proves any indication, theirs appears more likely to be a strained and irritating affiliation, one the place the 2 leaders might preserve a veneer of civil discourse whilst they joust on the worldwide stage and within the shadows of our on-line world. The two emerged from two and a half hours of conferences having reviewed a laundry listing of disputes with out a trace of decision to any of them and no signal of a private bond that might bridge the gulf that has opened between their two nations.
Their assessments of one another have been dutiful however restrained. Mr. Putin referred to as Mr. Biden “a very balanced, professional man,” whereas Mr. Biden averted characterizing his counterpart. This 12 months, the president had agreed with an interviewer that Mr. Putin was a “killer.” But on Wednesday, Mr. Biden mentioned that he had no want to debate that additional. “Why would I bring it up again?”
But in a signal of his sensitivity to criticism that he was too accommodating to Mr. Putin, Mr. Biden grew testy with a reporter who requested how he might be assured that Mr. Putin’s conduct would change. “When did I say I was confident?” he snapped.
The critique has changed into an increasingly loud talking point by Republicans, who hardly ever protested President Donald J. Trump’s chummy bromance with Mr. Putin. But additionally it is a fear shared by some inside Mr. Biden’s personal administration.
During a solo information convention that adopted the sit-down between leaders — Mr. Biden opted to not share a stage his Russian counterpart — the president emphasised that he didn’t place his religion in Mr. Putin.
“This is not about trust,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest.”