Jun 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden gifts Putin crystal bison sculpture, pair of custom Aviators


Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

At their summit in Geneva on Wednesday, President Biden gifted Russian Vladimir Putin a crystal sculpture of an American bison — the national mammal of the U.S. — and a pair of custom Aviator sunglasses, according to a White House official.

The big picture: The summit came at a low point in U.S.-Russia relations, as acknowledged by both sides. Biden has said he is not seeking a "reset" in relations, but a more "stable" and "predictable" dynamic between the U.S. and Russia.

Background, per the White House:

President Biden gifted Russian Vladimir Putin a crystal sculpture of an American Bison by Steuben Glass of New York, a stately interpretation of one of our nation’s most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, resilience. In 2016, it was officially named the national mammal of the United States when the Obama-Biden Administration signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law. In Russia, over the past 20 years, European bison were reintroduced by rewilding numerous sites after their extinction in 1927. The sculpture will be presented on a cherry wood base, symbolic of our nation’s first president, George Washington, with a custom engraved inscription plaque commemorating the meeting between President Biden and President Putin.
President Biden also gifted President Putin a pair of custom Aviators made by Randolph USA. In 1978, Randolph joined forces with the U.S. military to produce the HGU-4/P Aviator designed for fighter pilots. They have since provided the U.S. military and NATO partners with their high-level, durable aviators, manufactured domestically in their Massachusetts factory.

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