The United States will expand cooperation with Russia while continuing to hold the Kremlin accountable for violations of human rights and international norms, President Biden said.

We “share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries,” Biden said after a June 16 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. He described the meeting as a way “to clearly lay out our country’s priorities and our values.”

During their talks, Biden and Putin agreed to conduct a new Strategic Stability Dialogue to advance shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere and reducing the risk of armed conflict and the threat of nuclear war.

The dialogue will “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” the United States and Russia said in a joint statement. “We reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Joe Biden (front left), Vladimir Putin (front right) and others around table (© Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik Kremlin/AP Images)
President Biden, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, sought areas of cooperation during a June 16 meeting in Geneva. (© Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik Kremlin/AP Images)

Biden and Putin also agreed to restart U.S.-Russia consultations on cyber issues and addressed other topics, such as reducing hunger in Syria, preventing the resurgence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and cooperating in the Arctic.

Biden said the U.S. government would continue to defend human rights and hold the Russian government accountable for actions against the U.S. or its allies. In April, the U.S. sanctioned Russian officials for “reckless” conduct, including cyber intrusions and attempted election interference against the United States and its allies. More than 20 nations supported the sanctions.

In talks with Putin, Biden reiterated America’s “unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” amid Russia’s military buildup along that country’s border.

Joe Biden at lectern, gesturing (© Patrick Semansky/AP Images)
Biden tells reporters of his meeting with Putin in Geneva June 16. (© Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

He criticized Russian officials’ crackdown on dissent, including the imprisonment of opposition leader Aleksey Navalny.

Biden defended journalists, who risk arrest for reporting in Russia, and specifically highlighted Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which Russia’s state media regulator has fined more than $2 million for not complying with labeling restrictions imposed as part of RFE/RL Russia’s “foreign agent” designation. Although funded through a U.S. government grant, RFE/RL’s editorial independence is protected under U.S. law.

Biden also warned that the United States would respond to any attempts to violate U.S. sovereignty, including election interference. He said he raised points of disagreement with Russia, not to sow conflict, but to stand up for America’s core values.

“No President of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have,” Biden said.