Biden and Putin face off in ‘Festivus’ summit — an airing of grievances

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MANY GRIEVANCES, SOME AGREEMENT: In the end, the planned four-to-five-hour summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a lakeside mansion in Geneva concluded after two 90-minute sessions, when, after a Festivus-like airing of grievances, the two leaders ran out of things to say.

“It was, kind of, after two hours there, we looked at each other like, ‘OK. What next?’” said Biden as his post-summit wrap-up. Still, he declared the tete-a-tete a success. “I did what I came to do.”

Both presidents described the conversations as cordial and productive. “I would say he's very constructive. He's very balanced, just the way that I expected. He's very experienced,” said Putin at his separate session with reporters. “I think, on the whole, we spoke the same language. That doesn't mean that we necessarily have to look into our eyes, look into our souls. We need to have eternal friendship and love ... the relationship is a pragmatic one, primarily.”

As for Biden’s answer in a March interview that Putin was a “killer,” Putin said, “We all know about those statements. After that, President Biden called me, and we cleared things up.”

Asked about the “killer” comment, Biden said simply, “He’s satisfied. Why would I bring it up again?”


COMMON GROUND: Expectations were low for the summit, with White House officials warning that going in, there would likely be few “deliverables.” Nevertheless, there were some baby steps on several areas of mutual concern, including the scourge of ransomware, the need for an arms control treaty to follow New START, and even Russian offers to “help” in Afghanistan and in dealing with Iran.

The White House issued a statement touting an agreement to work with Russia on a Strategic Stability Dialogue to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.

But Biden admitted there’s no way to tell if Putin is serious about any of it. “We’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters. We’ll find out whether we work to deal with everything from release of people in Russian prisons or not. We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order.”


THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING: Biden’s Geneva news conference ended on a sour note when Biden bristled at being challenged by a shouted question about why he should have any confidence that Putin would change his behavior.

“Where the hell — what do you do all the time?” he snapped at CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. Later, as he prepared to board Air Force One, he apologized. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.”

But he went on to explain why he tries not to give in to cynicism in his public statements and dealing with others. “Look, to be a good reporter, you got to be negative. You got to have a negative view of life.” But, he said, “If you were in my position, would you say, ‘Well, I don’t think, man, anything is going to happen. This is going to be really rough. I think it’s going to really be bad’? You’d guarantee nothing happens.”

“I mean, look, guys, I’m going to drive you all crazy because I know you want me to always put a negative thrust on things, particularly in public, and negotiate in public,” he explained. “But it makes no sense for me to negotiate with you. It makes no sense for me to tell you what I’m about to do.

“There’s a value to being realistic and put on an optimistic front, an optimistic face.”


Good Thursday morning, and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley are back on Capitol Hill this morning defending the Biden administration’s $715 billion defense budget that Republicans have widely panned as inadequate. They are scheduled to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee will examine the proposed Air Force budget at 9:30 a.m. with testimony from John Roth, acting Air Force secretary; Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Air Force chief of staff; and Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations.

WHATABOUTISM: After his sit-down with President Joe Biden in Geneva yesterday, Vladimir Putin was in full denial mode, parrying every tough question with a counter charge, shifting the blame to the United States and suggesting America was worse by comparison. One example:

Asked about his jailing of political rival Alexei Navalny and his elimination of opposition politicians, Putin refused to use Navalny’s name and said he had broken the law and that’s why he was in jail. “I believe he deliberately decided to get arrested. He did what he wanted to do. So, what is there to be discussed?”

“If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison, poisoned, doesn't that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?” the reporter followed up.

Putin immediately pivoted to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, citing that as an example of how political opposition is quashed in America.

“People came to the U.S. Congress with political demands; 400 people, over 400 people had criminal charges placed on them. They face prison sentences of up to 20, maybe even 25 years. They're being called domestic terrorists,” Putin said. “It's unclear on what grounds.”

“That’s a ridiculous comparison,” said Biden when asked about Putin’s remarks. “It’s one thing for literally criminals to break through cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer, and be held unaccountable than it is for people objecting and marching on the Capitol and saying, ‘You are not allowing me to speak freely.’”

MOST CYBERATTACK FROM US: Putin took the same tack when asked about Russian cyberattacks on U.S. companies, accusing America of being the real problem.

“Most cyberattacks in the world come from U.S. cyberspace. Canada is second. It is followed by two Latin American countries and then the United Kingdom. As you can see, Russia is not on the list,” Putin insisted.

“In 2020, we received 10 inquiries from the United States about cyberattacks on U.S. facilities ... Our colleagues received exhaustive responses to all of them,” Putin claimed. “In turn, Russia sent 45 inquiries to the relevant U.S. agency last year and 35 inquiries in the first half of this year. We have not yet received a single response. This shows that we have a lot to work on.”

A RAY OF HOPE: As Biden was walking away from the podium at the conclusion of his news conference, a reporter shouted, “What did Putin say about Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed? Sir, what do you say to the families of the detained Americans?”

Biden turned and said, “The families of the detained Americans came up, and we discussed it. We’re going to follow through with that discussion. I am not going to walk away on that issue.”

At Putin’s news conference, he also indicated a deal to swap prisoners may be in the works. “The question about American citizens that were in Russian prisons, we discussed that,” Putin said. “There could be some compromise that we enter into between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department. They will be working on it.”


The Rundown

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Washington Examiner: Kim Jong Un's health problems unlikely, analysts say

Reuters: After massed plane incursion near Taiwan, China says must respond to ‘collusion’

The Hill: Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over'

Bloomberg: A Far-Flung Taiwan Island Risks Triggering a U.S.-China Clash

Air Force Magazine: Brown: DOD Needs Up to 5% More Money, Plus Aircraft Cuts, to Compete With China 'At the Limits of What I Can Do:' Marine Corps Commandant Makes Plea for Funding

USNI News: MDA, NORTHCOM Heads Warn Funding Lapses Could Leave Missile Defense Gaps

Reuters: Pushing against China, U.S. lawmakers plan pro-Taiwan bill

The Drive: Russia's Newest Submarines Are "On Par With Ours" According To Senior American General

Defense One: Air Force Begins Search For New Refueling Tanker as Lawmakers Push Airbus

Air Force Magazine: Brown: NGAD Will be a Multirole Fighter

VOA: CENTCOM Commander Iran’s Russian Satellite Interest ‘Not Particularly Concerning’ To U.S. Security In MidEast

Reuters: U.S. Envoy For N.Korea To Visit S.Korea For Three-Way Meeting -S.Korean Official

Bloomberg: Pentagon to Start Considering Hundreds of Malpractice Claims

AP: Lawyer: US drops lawsuit, grand jury probe over Bolton book



9:30 a.m. G50 Dirksen — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “Posture of the Department of the Air Force in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with John Roth, acting Air Force secretary; Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Air Force chief of staff; and Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations.

10 a.m. 106 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Committee hearing: “A Review of the FY 2022 Department of Defense Budget Request,” with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

11 a.m. 2018 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces hearing: “Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for Seapower and Projection Forces,” with Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy; research, development and acquisition; Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy chief of naval operations warfighting requirements and capabilities; and Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

11 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual National Security Conference, with Chris Dougherty, senior fellow with the CNAS Defense Program, and former senior adviser to the deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy and force development; Eric Fanning, president and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association, and former Secretary of the Army; Sarah Mineiro, adjunct senior fellow, Defense Program, CNAS; Robert Work, senior counselor and distinguished senior fellow, Defense Program, CNAS, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense.

11 a.m. — Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies virtual discussion: “Great Power Competition in the Baltic Sea Region,” with Latvian Ambassador to the United States Maris Selga.

5 p.m. — Politics and Prose Bookstore virtual book discussion on Future War and the Defense of Europe, with co-authors John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution; Frederick Ben Hodges, chairman in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis; and Julian Lindley-French, senior fellow at the Institute of Statecraft.


12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “The Future of America's Defense Industrial Base,” with former Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Industrial Policy Jeffrey "Jeb" Nadaner, executive vice president for government and public affairs at Security America's Future Energy; Arthur Herman, director of the Hudson Quantum Alliance Initiative; and Bryan Clark, director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Gen. John Murray, commanding general, Army Futures Command; Kerri Dugan, director of the Biological Technologies Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Kayvon Modjarrad, M.D., director of Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Brian Weeden, director of program planning, Secure World Foundation; and Derek Tournear, director, Space Development Agency.


10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: “The Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense,” with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Rob Joyce, director of the Cybersecurity Directorate, National Security Agency; Maj. Steven Harvey, director of partnerships and technology, Marine Corps Installation Next; Randy Clark, Business Development and Strategic Planning for DOD and Public Safety, Verizon Business Group; and Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, director of technology and partnerships, Marine Corps Installation Next.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy; and Chris Lynch, CEO and co-founder, Rebellion Defense.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Tim Grayson, director, Strategic Technology Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology for special operations forces, acquisition, technology and logistics, U.S. Special Operations Command.


“I said to him, I said, ‘Your generation and mine are about 10 years apart. This is not a "kumbaya" moment, as you used to say back in the ’60s in the United States, like, "Let’s hug and love each other." But it’s clearly not in anybody’s interest, your country’s or mine, for us to be in a situation where we’re in a new Cold War.' And I truly believe he thinks that, he understands that.”

President Joe Biden on his first face-to-face talks with Vladimir Putin since being elected president.

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Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Biden and Putin face off in ‘Festivus’ summit — an airing of grievances

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