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Biden has 'given Putin a win': Republicans tear into president for calling Russia a 'great power'

Republicans condemned the Geneva summit on Wednesday, saying President Biden had handed President Putin a win by describing an ailing Russia as a 'great power.'

Biden and Putin posed stony faced before the cameras ahead of hours of talks, which the American president described as bringing 'two great powers' together.

Republican strategist John Feehery said a 'third-rate power' like Russia, which has less economic output than California, was unworthy of Biden's billing.

'Biden is building him up like we are back in the middle of the Cold War,' he told DailyMail.com.

'We should be focused more on China who is a significant threat.'

'Putin loves the attention and Biden seems happy to give it to him.

Biden extended his hand first. Putin accepted, and the two proceeded to shake hands and smile for the cameras. They ignored questions shouted by reporters covering the summit.

The pair look at pains to appear jovial as their summit gets underway in Geneva

Republicans condemned Biden's meeting with Putin but were supportive of President Trump's meeting with the Russian leader in 2018, when the left criticized him for being soft on a country that had tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election

The meeting was highly-anticipated at a time when relations between Moscow and Washington are at a low.

But with White House officials setting out minimal expectations for progress, Republicans said they feared a public relations win for Putin.

'Giving Putin a meeting is just the latest win that Joe Biden has handed Russia, including waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while he crushes U.S. energy jobs at home,' said Republican Nation Committee communications director Danielle Alvarez.

'Biden’s foreign policy failures have strengthened Russia at the expense of our country.

'The American people deserve a leader who prioritizes our interests and holds bad actors accountable.'

The meeting follows Biden's decision last month to hold off sanctioning the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Russia to Germany. Critics say its completion will strengthen Moscow's control of power in Western Europe.

Their meeting in a book-lined room got off to an awkward start. The two leaders avoided looking directly at each other as journalists jostled for position in a chaotic opening.

'As I said outside, it’s always better to meet face to face,” said Biden, adding that he hoped the two countries could cooperate on areas of mutual interests and find a path forward where they disagreed.

Above the hubbub of reporters and translators, he could also be heard referencing 'two great powers.'

The description is an elevation of Moscow's status on the world stage and President Obama called Russia a regional power when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. 

Biden also appeared to nod when a reporter asked if Putin could be trusted, prompting an urgent denial in a White House tweet that claimed he was not responding to any one question, 'but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally.' 

The White House had to hurriedly clarify Biden's apparent endorsement of Putin as someone he could trust, claiming that the American president had simply been nodding in general - rather than in response to a specific question

The two leaders are due to hold separate press conferences after their meeting, avoiding a replay of President Trump and Putin's joint session in Helsinki three years ago.

Trump publicly refused to criticize Putin for what U.S. intelligence agencies had said was a clear effort by Moscow to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

In a statement last week Trump insisted their meeting had been a success for the U.S.

'Despite the belated fake news portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia,” he said.

'Because of the phony Russia, Russia, Russia hoax, made up and paid for by the Democrats and crooked Hillary Clinton, the United States was put at a disadvantage - a disadvantage that was nevertheless overcome by me.'

Ahead of the meeting, Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton said the former president had made a mistake in not being tougher on Russia.

But he said Biden was making a mistake in advancing such vague goals in Geneva.

'In short, Biden is taking a substantial risk in meeting Putin if he is only following a process of choreography, while seeking diaphanous goals like “stability” in the Washington-Moscow relationship,' he wrote in the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

'The wily and well-prepared Putin will have a very clear agenda, specific objectives, and the focused attention and energy to pursue them.'

Utter confusion at start of the Biden-Putin summit: Details of the chaotic start with reporters shouting over each other and trying to get answers from both leaders  

The long-awaited summit between President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin started with a chaotic media scrum, with reporters who managed to get into the room shouting questions while the Russian translator tried to provide answers.

It resulted in very little words spoken between the two world leaders and the press confused as to which questions they were responding to.

Photographers also blocked the camera shots and Russian aides told members of the media to go away. 

AP's Jonathan Lemire asked Putin if he feared Navalny and what he would do if Ukraine joined NATO. Putin looked up and did not respond.

NBC's Elyse Perlmutter asked Biden if he trusted Putin. Biden looked at her and nodded in the affirmative.

But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later told the press pool that Biden wasn't nodding at a particular question:

'During a chaotic free for all with members of the press shouting questions over each other, the President gave a general head nod in the direction of the media. He wasn't responding to any question or anything other than the chaos.' 

7:37:10 TRANSLATOR: Still, the US and Russian relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest level meeting.

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