For decades, meetings between United States presidents and Russian leaders were dominated by one looming threat: the vast nuclear arsenals the two nations started amassing in the 1940s. But as President Biden met with President Vladimir V. Putin in Geneva on Wednesday, cyberweapons topped the agenda.
It is a shift that had been brewing for a decade. Russia and the United States, the two most skilled adversaries in the cyber arena, have each turned to a growing arsenal of techniques in what has become a daily low-level conflict.
At summit meetings, that sort of jousting was usually treated as a sideshow to the main superpower competition.
Not this year.
Not with the rising tempo and sophistication of recent attacks on American infrastructure, including on gasoline pipelines, hospitals and beef plants.
Mr. Biden had made clear that he intended to give Mr. Putin a choice: Cease the attacks, and crack down on the cybercriminals operating from Russian territory, or face reprisals.
It was unclear whether Mr. Putin — who denies any Russian role in the attacks, a mass of evidence notwithstanding — would be swayed, as even the American president acknowledged.
“There’s no guarantee you can change a person’s behavior or the behavior of his country,” Mr. Biden said.