Putin offers Biden reciprocal exchange of cybercriminals days before summit

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June 14 (UPI) — Days before the two world leaders are to meet during a highly anticipated summit on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is willing to exchange cybercriminals with United States, state-run media said.

TASS reported Sunday that Putin told Rossiya-1 TV that Moscow is willing to do a criminal swap with Washington.

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“If we agree on extradition of criminals, then Russia will naturally do that but only if the other side, in this case, the United States agrees to the same and will also extradite corresponding criminals to the Russian Federation,” Putin said.

The offer from Putin was made following a series of high-profile cyberattacks originating from Russia targeting U.S. companies and infrastructure in recent months and ahead of a summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, the final day of Biden’s first overseas trip as president.

Early last week, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden would be going into the meeting with “the wind at his back” after days of consulting with other world leaders during his eight-day trip in which he has tried to reaffirm U.S. global leadership.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Wednesday that the recent cyberattacks “will be a topic of direct discussion with President Putin and President Biden.”

During a press conference in Cornwall, Britain, on Sunday, Biden responded to reporters’ questions about the criminal exchange offer, stating he’s committed to holding cybercriminals to account and that Putin’s offer is “potentially a good sign” concerning the upcoming talks.

Sullivan later clarified for reporters that the president didn’t agree to a criminal swap, but he is willing to hold cybercriminals accountable, which the United States is already doing, and that he hopes Putin will do the same.

“He’s not saying he’s going to be exchanging cybercriminals with Russia,” he said. “There’s no cybercriminals who have committed crimes in Russia that he’s looking at and thinking, ‘I’m going to exchange them.'”

He said Biden will hold cybercriminals accountable and not harbor them from justice.

“He’s prepared to do that in the United States,” Sullivan said. “He’d like to see Vladimir Putin do that.”

Biden has vowed to hold Putin accountable for transgressions he can connect to the Kremlin amid an increase in cyberattacks originating from within Russia’s borders.

In April, Biden announced sanctions targeting nearly three dozen Russian individuals and entities for attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and for a widespread cyberattack that infiltrated at least nine government agencies and dozens of companies.