MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin set a strong tone for his planned meeting with US President Donald Trump on Friday. President Joe Biden accused Washington of attempting to control Russia, noting the West’s double standards in reaction to the fatal Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Arms control, global conflicts, the coronavirus epidemic, and climate change are among the subjects Putin and Biden will tackle during their June 16 summit in Geneva, Putin stated at an economic symposium in St. Petersburg.
“We need to find methods to find a resolution in our ties, which are currently at an all-time low,” Putin added.
He went on to say, “We don’t have any concerns with the United States.” “However, it has a problem with us. It aspires to restrict our progress and openly discusses it. This results in economic constraints and attempts to sway our country’s domestic politics by leaning on those they consider supporters within Russia.”
He expressed optimism that the meeting will assist to de-escalate tensions with Washington. Russia and the United States are at odds. Relations have deteriorated to post-Cold War lows as a result of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s the Crimean Peninsula, charges of Russian electoral meddling in the United States and other Western countries, and cyberattacks blamed on Russia by US officials.
Putin restated Russia’s denial of meddling in US presidential elections, and he slammed the US reaction to the Capitol incident, which occurred as Congress was about to confirm Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump in November.
“They weren’t just a bunch of robbers and rioters,” says the narrator. Those individuals had arrived with political demands, he explained.
Putin said that the charges against hundreds of attackers were brought even as the United States and its allies condemned Belarus’ crackdown on anti-government protesters. He further claimed that, although the West has chastised Russian authorities for their violent response to anti-Kremlin protests, protestors in Europe have been met with even worse police response, with some being shot in the eye with what he mockingly referred to as “democratic rubber bullets.”
“I don’t expect any breakthrough results” from the talks with Biden, Putin said in a subsequent videoconference with the leaders of major foreign news organizations. “Despite certain disagreements,” he remarked, the United States and Russia have certain common objectives. These squabbles aren’t the product of Russian meddling.”
In answer to a query from Associated Press President and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt, Putin went back to blaming the US for the deterioration of ties.
“I’m not talking about the stages that deteriorated our relationship; I’m talking about the stages that deteriorated our relationship. It was the United States, not us, who imposed sanctions against us on every occasion, even when there was no justification, simply because our nation exists,” he added via a translator.
He also attacked the US for being overconfident, drawing a comparison to the Soviet Union.
“Are you aware of the issue? As a former Soviet Union citizen, I’ll tell you what I know. “The problem with empires is that they believe they are so powerful that they can afford small errors and mistakes,” he explained. “But the number of problems grows, and there comes a time when they can no longer be dealt with. And the United States, with a confident gait and a firm step, is following the Soviet Union’s path.”
Putin lauded Biden as a “highly seasoned statesman who has been involved in politics for his entire life… and a very sensible and careful guy… I do hope that our meeting will be beneficial” at the earlier session.
He also seized the opportunity to mock charges that Russian hackers attacked a U.S. pipeline and a meat industry, which had darkened the atmosphere leading up to the meeting.
“I sincerely hope that people understand that there has been no nefarious Russian activity,” he stated. “I heard something about the meat plant,” says the narrator. It’s just rubbish. We’re all aware that it’s ludicrous. Is there a pipeline? It’s equally ridiculous.”
“The US special services should chase down those ransom seekers,” Putin added, “because it’s absolutely not Russia that would extort money from a corporation. We don’t deal with poultry or beef. It’s preposterous.”
He said the hacking allegations were made by people attempting to “provoke fresh tensions before our meeting with Biden,” and that several in the United States questioned Russian involvement in the attack.
“It implies that there are people inside the American culture, media, and political elite who wish to find methods to mend U.S.-Russian relations,” he explained.
On other topics, Putin complimented Russia’s reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and urged for a greater global reaction to global warming as part of his efforts to improve Russia’s international reputation.
Putin praised the efficacy of Russian-designed vaccinations while criticizing what he called “politically driven bans” on their purchase in other countries.
Last year, Russia bragged of being the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, but it has since moved slowly in administering the vaccine to its citizens, owing in part to popular distrust of the immunizations as a result of the authorities’ contentious signals.
Experts doubt that Russia will be able to reach the government’s goal of vaccinating more than 30 million of the country’s 146 million people by mid-June and over 69 million by August.
Putin urged Russians to get the vaccinations as soon as possible, and he asked visitors to be vaccinated in Russia, saying he would tell the administration to make it easier.
He also stressed the need of bolstering the international response to climate change, stressing that permafrost thawing has posed a big challenge to Russia’s Arctic areas.
“What will happen if it all begins melting?” he said, referring to huge cities constructed on permafrost.
Putin stated that the first of two lines of the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany has been laid, with just welding remaining to complete its construction, and that the second line will be completed soon.
The US has opposed the pipeline’s development, but the Biden administration chose not to penalize the German corporation in charge of the project despite imposing fresh penalties against Russian firms and ships last month, which the Kremlin praised as a “good signal” ahead of the Putin-Biden summit.
The Russian president praised the project as more cost-effective than an existing pipeline via Ukraine, dismissing accusations from Ukraine and the West that it is intended to deprive Kyiv of transit payments.
Putin stated that Russia will continue to pump 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year through Ukraine in accordance with an existing five-year contract and that this may continue after the contract expires if Ukraine demonstrates “goodwill.”
Following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and its support for separatist militants in eastern Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine have been embroiled in a violent tug-of-war.
Putin criticized the United States’ use of the dollar as a political tool, claiming that “its usage as a tool of competitiveness and political conflict has harmed its function as the international reserve currency.”
Russia announced on Thursday that the dollar will be completely removed from its National Wealth Fund and that assets denominated in dollars will be converted to euros, yuan, and gold. Russia has been working to reduce the dollar’s share of its hard currency reserves as it has faced US sanctions and tensions with Washington and its allies.