The United States president said that "human rights will always be on the table," so he will continue to express his "concern" about cases such as that of the opposition leader, who is detained in Moscow.
Joe Biden gave a press conference after the summit he held with Vladimir Putin in Geneva, in which he stressed that he made clear to the Russian president the United States' commitment to human rights and mentioned, in particular, the case of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is arbitrarily detained.
"Human rights are always going to be on the table. How can I be the United States president and not speak out about human rights violations, even in countries like Russia? That is why we are going to continue expressing our concern about cases such as Alexei Navalny," said the US president from Villa La Grange.
Asked about concerns about the state of health of the Russian opposition leader, Biden was emphatic: "I made it clear to him that the consequences would be devastating for Russia if Navalny dies in prison."
In line with Putin's statement, Biden indicated that the meeting was "constructive" and "positive" and clarified that his plan "is not against Russia": "It is for the benefit of the American people. My responsibility is to protect the people of the United States. "
In addition, he stressed the importance of "fighting the coronavirus and restoring international relations": "We show the world that the United States has returned, that it is with the allies. We have made the relationship between the United States and Russia clear. "
In that sense, he warned that his government "will not tolerate "Russian interference in American democracy: I made it clear that we would not tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections, and we would respond.
He also told his Russian counterpart that critical infrastructures should be kept out of cyberattacks: "As for cybersecurity, they said they would take action (...) I pointed out that we have the significant cyber capacity, if they violate these rules, we will respond".
"I gave him a list" of 16 entities "ranging from the energy sector to our water distribution systems," he added.
For his part, Biden indicated that he spoke with Putin "about the next steps for arms control." In this regard, he pointed out, they agreed to "conversations with experts and diplomats for the control of dangerous weapons that increase the risk of a war by accident."
The US president also expressed his concern to Putin "about the humanitarian aspect of Syria" and conveyed Washington's commitment to the Iranian regime "not to acquire nuclear weapons." He acknowledged that neither Washington nor Moscow "have an interest in being in a nuclear war."
"The last thing Putin wants is a new Cold War," Biden said.
After the summit that lasted about three and a half hours, the first to give a press conference was Putin, who announced that the parties agreed that their ambassadors would return in a small gesture of relaxation in their tense relations.
The ambassadors will return to their workplaces. When it comes to the exact technical question, the Russian president told reporters.
Diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington had all but been severed since Biden took office in January.
After the US president compared Putin to a "murderer," Russia took the rare step in March of calling in its ambassador Anatoly Antonov. The United States envoy, John Sullivan, also returned to Washington.
Despite the tensions, the summit in an elegant villa on the shores of Lake Geneva got off to a good start, with the two leaders shaking hands and taking cautiously positive notes.
"We have differences on several issues, but both parties expressed their desire to understand each other and bring positions closer. It has been productive, "said Putin, who left open the possibility of an exchange of national prisoners imprisoned in each country, an issue that was addressed at the summit:" We talk about it; there may be compromises. "
The Russian president was consulted on the situation of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whose imprisonment has been criticized by Western countries as a sign of political persecution. "This man knew that he was violating the law in force in Russia," he declared, referring to a prison sentence that forced Navalny to appear regularly before the prison services.