The Biden–Putin Summit Ended Without Major Breakthroughs — And The Russian Leader Relishing The Spotlight

“Putin got exactly what he wanted,” said one Russian journalist.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

While no major breakthroughs were announced following the highly anticipated summit between the presidents of the US and Russia in Switzerland on Wednesday, there was one clear winner to emerge from it: Vladimir Putin.

“In the very first minute of the meeting, [President Joe] Biden granted him a gift,” Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist and coauthor of several books on Russia, told BuzzFeed News from London. “[Biden] said Russia and the United States are ‘two great powers.’”

It certainly wasn’t the fawning praise that Donald Trump offered of Putin during their disastrous 2018 summit in Helsinki that had one top White House adviser wishing she had faked a medical emergency in order to abruptly end it.

But by equating the strength of the two nations, even if that’s not what Biden meant to do, Soldatov said, “Putin got exactly what he wanted.”

Geneva rolled out the red carpet for the two leaders, lining the streets with the flags of their respective countries and cordoning off much of the area around the lakeside villa where they would meet. Meanwhile, scores of reporters clamored for positions close to them and cable news channels narrated their every move as they began their top-level talks.

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