President Biden says ‘last thing’ Putin wants is new Cold War


US President Joe Biden voiced confidence Wednesday that his Russian counterpart did not want a new Cold War, and also said he had told him critical infrastructure must be “off limits” to cyber attacks.

“I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War,” Biden told reporters after his first summit with Vladimir Putin, adding that he during the talks had stressed that “certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack — period — by cyber or any other means.”

“I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It’s for the American people,” said Biden, who hosted a separate press conference from Putin’s in the park grounds of the 18th-century villa where they met.

Biden spoke briefly and said he would continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights with Putin “because that’s what we are.”

The US president said he made it very clear to the Russian leader that his country would not tolerate attempts to violate its “democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections.”

He also warned Putin of “devastating” consequences if opposition figure Alexey Navalny dies while in a Russian prison after fleeing to Germany for some months after being poisoned.

Biden said Russia and the US had launched bilateral dialogue to control dangerous weapons.

Putin arrived by plane from Moscow about an hour before the scheduled start of the talks, which took place amid tensions between the two world powers.

The two leaders, who brought along their respective foreign minister and secretary of state, did not share a meal.

Security was tight in Switzerland’s second-largest city, encircled by the Alps and Jura mountains, hosting the UN European headquarters and several UN agencies such as the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.