(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday defended the president’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Biden heard some “important statements” about Putin’s view, as the U.S. takes a wait-and-see approach to Russia following the sit down.
“I would say that President Biden did hear from President Putin, some important statements about how he looks at both the U.S.-Russia relationship and particular issues in it on strategic stability, on cyber and in other areas,” Sullivan told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“But President Biden has been pretty clear from the outset that he wants to be able to have a space, to be able to engage directly, privately, candidly with President Putin, and then to determine whether the actions that Russia takes in the months ahead, match up with the discussions that took place in Geneva. That is where we will turn our focus at this point,” Sullivan added.
The national security adviser’s comments come after Biden’s first foreign trip, which saw the president spend eight days abroad attending summits with the Group of Seven, NATO and the EU, culminating in the high-stakes face-to-face meeting with Putin.
During their talks, Biden raised several issues with the Russian president, including election interference, cyberattacks and human rights abuses.
“That alone, George, is reason enough to sit face to face with Vladimir Putin,” Sullivan said when pressed on criticism that the U.S. gave Putin a “PR” win, but did not return with any tangible gains from the summit.
The president said he would take a wait-and-see approach to the relationship with Russia following the summit.
“We’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters,” Biden told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.
“Our goal at the end of the day is a stable, predictable relationship, where we’re not going to be friends by any stretch of the imagination, but where we can reduce the risk of escalation that would ultimately harm America’s interests,” Sullivan told Stephanopoulos.
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