President Biden said today that he spent “a great deal of time” discussing cybersecurity issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their three-hour summit meeting held June 16, and central to that discussion was President Biden’s assertion that critical infrastructure should be off limits to any attacks.

Speaking at a press conference following their meeting, President Biden said, “I spent a great deal of time on … cyber and cybersecurity. I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means.”

President Biden said he presented Putin with a list of the 16 sectors that the United States has already defined as critical infrastructure.

As a result, according to President Biden, “we agreed to … get some experts” from both the United States and Russia “to work on specific understandings about what’s off limits” and to “follow up on specific cases that originate” in either country.

“Principle has to be backed up by practice,” Biden said. “Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”

“We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement … that portends to bring some order” over the next six to 12 months, President Biden said.

Asked whether he told President Putin about penalties for attacks on critical infrastructure, President Biden said he conveyed that “we have significant cyber capabilities … he knows that,” and if Russia violates “these basic norms … we will respond.”

“The last thing that [President Putin] wants now is a Cold War,” President Biden said. “I don’t think he is looking for a Cold War with the United States … It’s clearly not in anybody’s interest.” President Biden added, “he understands that … that does not mean he’s ready to lay down his arms.”

On election security, President Biden indicated he delivered a similar message.

“We won’t tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections,” he said, and pledged that the United States “would respond” to any such attempts.

Read More About
More Topics
John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.