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Vladimir Putin is leaving Wednesday’s summit with his own pair of custom aviators, a gift from President Joe Biden that hearkens back to the later days of the Cold War era — back when Randolph USA partnered with the U.S. military to produce the HGU-4/P Aviator sunglasses for fighter pilots.
Putin and Biden met for roughly four hours, with breaks, on Wednesday. Biden was clear in his post-meeting news conference that he does not consider his relationship with the Russian leader to be one of friendship, but rather one of “pure business." This marked a departure from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who some say ingratiated himself with the Russian leader too much.
The aviators Biden gifted to Putin were manufactured by Randolph, which is based in Massachusetts. Since partnering with the U.S. military in 1978, the company has continued to provide the U.S. forces, along with its NATO allies, with aviators. Notably, NATO was partly formed in 1949 in response to the threat of what was then the Soviet Union.
Aviators are also a signature style for Biden, who often is seen wearing his own pair. He donned them walking up to his news conference on Wednesday, where he discussed his meeting with Putin.
In addition to the sunglasses, Biden gifted Putin a crystal sculpture of an American bison by New York manufacturer Steuben Glass — a “stately interpretation of one of our nation’s most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, resilience,” per the White House. The bison will sit on a cherry wood base, a callback to President George Washington, and have an engraved plaque commemorating the two leaders' Wednesday meeting.