As President Joe Biden’s first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin began, a physical altercation broke out between reporters and security officials. As they struggled to access the lone joint photo-op of the summit, reporters from Russia and the United States tussled with each other.
Although the scuffle was only a minor subplot in this major meeting, the incident hampered the opening remarks delivered by the two leaders, making it impossible to hear. This proved to be a setback as the encounter was the only expected possibility for them both to speak and engage with one another on camera.
At first, both Biden and Putin seemed confused as to what was keeping them from beginning the meeting. President Biden even appeared to question Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the matter.
Amid the chatter that emerged from behind the cameras, the two leaders were broadcast on live television in a study lined with books. A few times, Biden and Putin were compelled to sit in silence while the press corps settled in. The situation got so chaotic that some journalists jammed into the room and ended up blocking the cameras’ view of the two Presidents inside Villa La Grange. As the spray concluded, a handler with a Russian accent told reporters, “Go away, please.”
Equal numbers for both the American and Russian press were negotiated for the press summit. However, many reporters were left out; one of them even stated that they were shoved to the ground and an individual even put their hand around an American press member’s throat.
Post the appearance, members of the Russian press blamed American reporters for the fray. In 2019, a similar chaotic situation occurred during the meeting of former President Donald Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.