Wednesday’s high-profile summit in Geneva between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden yielded few tangible outcomes aside from some platitudes about the importance of repairing a broken relationship between the two countries. But perhaps the most significant accomplishment was, despite a relationship marked by posturing on both sides in recent years, an implied commitment to ratchet down the rhetoric and move away from tough-guy politics.
Biden doffed his suit jacket during his culminating press conference late in the day on a patio overlooking a serene lake and donned aviator sunglasses before taking a few additional shouted questions from the assembled reporters. It matched a casual style the president and his team had clearly focused on putting forward to describe the multiple hours the two leaders spent together.
“There were no threats,” he said at one point, noting that Putin had referenced Biden’s mother at least once during the two sessions, as the president himself often does. “I explained things on a personal basis: What happens if, for example.”