Biden’s meeting with Putin brings old hostility and new dissatisfaction

US President Joe Biden once recalled looking at Vladimir Putin in a private meeting and said: “I think you have no soul.” The Russian leader replied: “We understand each other.”

These two senior politicians are no strangers. They have decades of political experience and a common preference for aviator sunglasses, but don’t expect the highly anticipated summit of the two presidents in Geneva on Wednesday to unfreeze the frozen US-Russian relationship.

Charles Kupchan, senior researcher and director of European studies at the Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., said: “Neither party is interested in resetting it.”

Kupchan said, “Biden is attending this meeting with his eyes wide open.” He knows that on some of the most controversial issues-Ukraine’s aggression, cyber security, and Russian dissidents such as Alexei Navalny. The suppression-“He is unlikely to let Putin make concessions.”

So why hold a summit?

Both sides believe that it is better to talk than nothing. Putin admitted in an interview with NBC on Friday that “the bilateral relationship has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.”

Supporting-some say manipulating-the Russian president of former U.S. President Donald Trump described Biden as “completely different” and expressed his hope that “there will be no impulsive movement on behalf of Biden.”

But Biden’s list of dissatisfaction is a long list, accusing Russia of inciting conflict abroad and cruelly suppressing the opposition at home. Biden said the United States hopes for a “stable and predictable relationship” to move forward, but warns that he will not treat Putin with children’s gloves.

“We do not seek to conflict with Russia… but I have made it clear: If the Russian government engages in harmful activities, the United States will respond in a strong and meaningful way,” Biden said in Mildenhall, England at the beginning of G7 The meeting last weekend.

The meeting is about “world security”

White House officials stated that when Biden met Putin face-to-face in an 18th-century Swiss villa, Biden would directly talk about US election interference, further aggression against Ukraine, and recent cyber attacks on US infrastructure related to Russian hackers. And dissidents.

A controversial issue facing Biden is Russia’s treatment of dissidents, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny. A mural in St. Petersburg reads “Heroes of the New Era” “. (Anton Vaganov/Reuters)

Some Republicans called Biden “weak” because he even provided Putin with an international platform. Republican Senator Ben Sass called the summit a “reward” for Putin and concluded that the Russian leader will use it to shape an image, especially at home, where he is equal to the new US president. status.

Masha Lipman, a political analyst and PONARS Eurasia senior assistant at George Washington University in Moscow, said this is short-sighted.

“I don’t think this should be a reward or no reward. It should be about the safety of the world, which is the most important thing,” she said. Lipman, a long-time political analyst in Moscow, described the current Russia-US relations as “dangerous” and “new cold war.”

“Not meeting, not speaking at all can lead to deeper confrontations and have truly dramatic results,” she said. “Not just for the two countries, maybe for the world.”

U.S. efforts to contain or influence Vladimir Putin have been mixed at best. Biden is the fifth American president to meet him. Everyone tries to unravel the Russian leader’s psychology and predict his strategy.

George W. Bush famously said that looking straight into Putin’s eyes, he felt his own soul and found him “frank and trustworthy.”

In April 2008, Putin met the then-U.S. President George W. Bush at his summer resort in Sochi. (Kevin Lamarck/Reuters)

As US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton reached a “reset” with the Kremlin in 2009, trotting a fancy red button at a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Five years later, Russia invaded Crimea and occupied eastern Ukraine, triggering rapid international sanctions, including sanctions from Canada, many of which are still being implemented.

Strained relationship

Today, after US intelligence agencies accused Russia of interfering in the 2020 election, both the Russian and US ambassadors have left their posts and returned to their home countries.

Watch | Biden talks about the results of Russia’s investigation into the 2020 U.S. election:

The President of the United States is expected to announce new sanctions against Russia in response to suspected election interference and malicious cyber activities targeting multiple individuals and entities. 4:12

In an interview with ABC News in April, Biden was asked: “Do you think Putin is a killer?” Biden replied: “I do.”

The cumulative effect is serious tension in diplomatic relations.

“Biden will not be a good partner for Putin,” predicted Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian International Affairs Committee (RIAC) in Moscow.

Kortunov said that Putin likes Trump, but from the Kremlin’s point of view, he has proved to be unreliable, and the pressure of domestic politics in the United States has weakened him. The Russian president will calculate whether Biden is a “good investment.”

Kurtonov said: “Biden may be harsh on Putin. He may be very critical of Russia,” but Putin’s question is whether Biden can fulfill any promises that are in the common interest. “This issue is still unresolved.”

The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 caused a lot of speculation. At the joint press conference, Trump refuted his own intelligence agency’s assessment of Russia’s participation in the 2016 U.S. election. (Kevin Lamarck/Reuters)

Before the summit, Putin publicly stated that he would not discuss Russia’s domestic policies with President Biden.

“We have no differences with the United States,” Putin told live television viewers two months ago. “They only have one disagreement: they want to stifle our development.”

‘Biden wants to lower the temperature’

The White House is downplaying the “deliverables” of improving relations, but over the weekend, Biden inferred that the two countries may find common ground on issues such as “strategic stability” (such as maintaining arms control agreements), pandemics, climate change, and even tacit understanding. Understand not to harbor cybersecurity criminals in their respective countries.

“Biden wants to lower the temperature. He wants to reduce the poison of this relationship, and then maybe in the future, this can create room for solving more difficult problems,” said Kupp, who travels between Washington, Kiev and Moscow as US President Barack. Kan said the senior director of European affairs at the Obama National Security Council.

Kupkan said that the summit is to deal with greater challenges, such as the rise of China, and he believes that the Biden administration may be looking for opportunities to start attracting Russia away from China.

“Will Putin play a role in this? No. Will it blossom and bear fruit in the next few years? It’s possible,” he said.

Charles Kupkan, a senior fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations, said that US President Joe Biden is not looking for trouble abroad. He believes that China is a big problem and hopes that relations with Russia will “reduce toxicity.” (Paul Andre St.-Onge Fleurent / CBC)

“Restarting the conversation” is important

On Wednesday, Switzerland will once again become the center of international conspiracy. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev met in Geneva and negotiated a landmark arms control agreement.

Don’t expect such an impact this time.

“If they just restart the conversation, then everything except the obvious failure should be considered a success,” Kortunov said.

Also, don’t expect to see the two test each other at a joint press conference-the White House has denied this. Biden said on Sunday that he didn’t want to be distracted by the media from analyzing their body language and focusing on “Did they shake hands?” and “Who said the most?”

Biden added: “This is not a race about who can do better before the press conference to try to embarrass the other party.”

Most likely, the strategic decision to deprive Putin of another photo opportunity next to the U.S. President is an exorcism to the specter of the Helsinki Summit in 2018. Trump stood next to Putin and weakened U.S. interference in the 2016 election. And said he did not believe Russia was the culprit.

This summit will be very different-more socially and politically alienated to adapt to the times.

“I think many things can go wrong,” Lipman said, “but the important thing is that no matter how different the positions of the two presidents, no matter how deep the mistrust between them, they worked hard and succeeded in maintaining civilization. .”

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