Federal documents published on Thursday show that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ashraf Ghani, former president of Afghanistan, were among the top gift givers to President Joe Biden and his family in 2021.
In happier diplomatic times between all three countries, Putin gave Biden a $12,000 lacquer writing box and pen when they met at a highly anticipated summit in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2021, according to the documents.
The same month, Mohammed Ashraf Ghani and his wife gave Biden and first lady Jill Biden silk rugs worth an estimated $28,800.
This happened two months ahead of the fall of the republic government in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of US forces from the country.
On August 15, 2021, Ghani fled Afghanistan shortly after the US withdrew from the country on Biden’s orders.
Also in June, Biden received a brass and lapis lazuli jewelry box, worth an estimated $1,150 from Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the high council for national reconciliation and a key political leader in the former government. Moreover, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was given a carpet valued at $2,650 in March by Ghani, the documents show as reported by US media.
US-Russia ties soured soon after the Geneva meeting and have plummeted since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2021.
The details appear in the State Department’s annual accounting of gifts to US officials from world leaders posted on the website of the Federal Register on Thursday. The list, covering 2021, will formally be published on Friday.
All of the Putin and Ghani gifts were transferred to the National Archives, a requirement for any gift to a US official valued at more than $415. The recipient has the option of paying the estimated value and keeping the gift.