US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that critical infrastructures should be closed to cyberattacks when the two leaders agreed to start talks on cybersecurity issues.
“I was talking about the proposal that certain critical infrastructures should be banned from attack, period,” Biden told reporters in Geneva, adding that he gave Putin a list of 16 units including power and water systems.
Putin reached out to reporters at his own press conference before Biden spoke, saying he and the US leader spoke “the same language” and that the talks were “fairly constructive”. The two countries agreed to return their respective ambassadors to their posts, Putin said.
Biden has accused Russia of harboring hackers who disrupted American businesses and blown up Moscow’s interference in the US elections. Biden also said the potential death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is an indication that Russia has “little or no intention of upholding basic human rights.”
Putin told reporters on Wednesday that Navalny “knew he was breaking the law” when he went to Germany for treatment after being poisoned with a neurotoxin.
The Russian leader has referred to the January 6 uprising in the US Capitol to argue that the US has nothing to do with lecturing on democratic norms. He insists that the Russian government was not involved in electoral interference or cyberattacks, despite US intelligence showing otherwise.
Putin told reporters he had agreed to start talks on cybersecurity but added, “Most of the cyberattacks in the world come from the United States”.
Cyber attacks are following the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, in May and a separate attack on JBS. moved into the political spotlight
the world’s largest meat packer. JBS notified the US government of a ransom demand from the ransomware gang REvil, believed to operate in Russia, Associated Press reported. A group called Darkside, believed to be operating out of Russia, has disabled Colonial’s computer network.
At his press conference, Putin denied any responsibility for the attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
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Biden entered the meeting and called it a discussion between “two great powers” while Putin said he hoped for “productive” talks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.