Russian President Vladimir Putin said he and President Joe Biden agreed on Wednesday that their ambassadors would return to their foreign posts, marking the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two opponents, which have been suspended since April.
At the moment, neither the Russian ambassador to the USA, Anatoly Antonov, nor the ambassador of Washington in Moscow, John Sullivan, are in his place.
Both were recalled this spring after Biden announced a new round of U.S. sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for mass cybernetics last year on U.S. government agencies.
As a result, consular operations, visas and other diplomatic services in both states have actually been halted. This breakdown has had a ripple effect on industries, families and aid groups that maintain ties in both countries.
The ambassador’s return was one of the few concrete outcomes that emerged immediately after the two leaders met face to face in Geneva on Wednesday.
The summit began with a 90-minute meeting attended only by Biden, Putin and their top foreign policy aides, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
After the meeting, the two sides moved to an extended bilateral session with several aides.
Officials have previously agreed that Putin will hold the first press conference after the talks, and Biden will speak after that.
At the top of the agenda were nuclear weapons control, cyber warfare and security, the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear program.
In February, the Biden administration extended a key nuclear weapons agreement with Russia for another five years.
But the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New START is currently the only arms control treaty that exists between Washington and Moscow.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the medium-range nuclear forces or the INF agreement. Similar to the INF agreement, the new START limits the nuclear arsenals of Washington and Moscow.
Putin and Biden have expressed a desire to re-establish channels for high-level nuclear talks, and both leaders recognize this as an area where the two countries have long held dialogue, despite their fragmented relations on other issues.
United States and Russia own the lion’s share of the nuclear world weapon.
Biden also intended to warn Putin that he would take the United States instead, potentially disrupting Russia’s digital infrastructure.
Biden’s warning came after two targeted ransomware attacks in the past month that directly affected U.S. citizens, both committed by criminals believed to be based in Russia.
The first was an attack in early May on the operator of the largest national gas pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline. The attack forced the company to close about 5,500 miles of fuel pipelines, leading to the disruption of nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply and causing gasoline shortages in the southeast and airline disruptions.
The second attack, this one by another cybercrime group based in Russia, targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier. The company eventually paid a $ 11 million ransom, but not before it briefly shut down the entire U.S. operation.
Putin has denied any knowledge of the attacks, and recently suggested that if cyber criminal groups do not violate any Russian law, there is nothing he can do to stop them.
But U.S. officials said the idea that Putin was unaware of the attack was not credible, given the firm grip he has on Russian intelligence and its darker, improper supplier network.
Biden also intended to put pressure on Putin’s Russian illegal annexation of Crimea and the arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine, the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the fate of two former U.S. Marines in Russian custody.
No breakthrough was expected on either side. Biden and Putin recently said they believe Russian-American relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War.
Officials in Moscow and Washington have been lowering expectations for the summit for months, and this week aides to both leaders said it was unlikely any agreements would be reached in Geneva.
Yet from this onslaught, the United States saw the summit as an opportunity to build a more stable and predictable relationship between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.