Q&A: DC correspondent Jon Decker breaks down Biden-Putin summit

DC correspondent Jon Decker was in Geneva for the summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He helps breakdown the meeting.
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 9:09 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The historic meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in Switzerland provided an opportunity for leaders of the two nations to sit down face to face. The content and tone of that discussion will have reverberating after effects in the months ahead. Alaska’s News Source DC correspondent Jon Decker was in Geneva for the summit meeting and we spoke with him Thursday morning.

Charlie Sokaitis: I’d like to start with some of the areas of agreement. The two sides made a joint statement about reducing the threat of nuclear war, that’s a positive reinforcement of some earlier actions.

Jon Decker: The earlier action Charlie that you might be referring to is the New START Treaty, which was re-signed a few months ago that reduces the intercontinental ballistic missiles that both Russia and the US have aimed at each other. That agreement expires in five years, and there’s a discussion in terms of extending that agreement, which obviously would be a very good thing for both sides. It would be a good thing for having a more stable world as well.

Q: There certainly was some tension no escaping that, especially when President Biden was asked if Vladimir Putin would change his behavior. What was your takeaway from that moment?

A: My takeaway from that moment is, I think that President Biden, you know, was reacting to the inability to answer that question. He can’t predict the future and he can’t predict what the actions of President Putin will be in the months following this summit here in Geneva. That I think is one reason Charlie, why there is no second summit on the table there was no invitation extended by either President Biden or President Putin to visit Washington or Moscow. I think President Biden wants to see what the actions are of President Putin in the months ahead, particularly in the area of that cyber warfare. Those cyber attacks that have happened here in the US, the Colonial Pipeline attack that emanated from Russia, it was Russian hackers that were responsible for that hack. So I think to a large extent, President Biden and his team are taking a wait-and-see approach to see whether the behavior of Russia, the behavior of President Putin, is changed a bit over the course of the next few months.

Q: That was actually going to be my next question, those cyber hacks that have emanated from Russia, was that broached? How was it addressed? How was that handled? It is a touchy subject I’m sure.

A: It’s a touchy subject, perhaps, for President Putin because the attacks are coming from Russian soil. This was the number one issue on the plate for President Biden, and there was an agreement in terms of continuing those discussions as it relates to cyber warfare. We also heard from President Biden in his post-summit press conference, that there needs to be rules of the road, and there can’t be attacks on America’s infrastructure. Maybe down the road, maybe in a few months, there is a commitment that both the US and Russia will refrain from attacks on our oil sector, or on our food supply, or on our hospital systems, all of those types of attacks have happened in America. Over the course of the past few months.

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