GENEVA – While US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in their much-anticipated summit in Geneva on Wednesday, what does the success look like for a meeting that both parties have underestimated from the start?
Both parties highlighted opportunities for cooperation, but did not expect any major improvement in strained relations between Moscow and Washington. The meeting was set up to broadcast more grievances as a platform to reach important agreements.
“We do not expect a large amount of deliveries from this meeting,” said a senior administration official, informing VOA and other reporters aboard Air Force One during Biden’s flight to Switzerland.
The official said Biden’s goals include seeking out regions where the United States and Russia can work together, while clearly outlining US key national interests and making it clear that ‘Russian activities that run counter to these interests response will be answered. ‘ He also intends to lay out his ‘vision for American values and our national priorities’.
“The meeting has a low bar,” said Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the American and American program at Chatham House. It does not seek a ‘recovery’ from the relationship, Vinjamuri added, something many US presidents have tried before Biden.
Vinjamuri added that if Biden could tell the American people after the summit that he had drawn red lines over interference in American democracy, called on Putin to attack cyber-attacks and emphasized NATO’s commitment to repel Russia’s aggression, the government of Biden calls it success.
On the other hand, Putin is likely to hail the summit as a success just by playing the role of statesman on the biggest stage in the world, said Cyrus Newlin, fellow European, Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International, said. Studies. Russian state media have highlighted the fact that Biden is meeting Putin in front of Chinese President Xi Jinping or any other US opponent.
Whether the summit will turn out only positively for Biden can only be determined in the following months – Biden will communicate his red lines and Putin will respect it, Newlin said.
“Does Russia repel its cyber attacks? Does Russia stop its provocations in the Black Sea and along the border with Ukraine?” Ask Newlin. “The US failure to ensure these basic changes in Russian behavior will illustrate that the summit does have costs.”
Republicans complained to Biden for rewarding Putin with an unconditional meeting, a criticism that the White House rejected.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia maintained a massive presence near its borders and withdrew only a fraction of the 100,000 troops deployed in April. The build-up is worrying for the West and will be raised by Biden in his talks with Putin, the senior administration official said.
Ukraine’s rise in NATO will be another important red line – a difficult problem to manage, according to Timothy Frye, a professor of post-Soviet politics at Columbia University and author of “Weak Strongman: The Limits of power in Putin’s Russia. ”
“Putin will insist on no NATO membership for Ukraine, while the US will insist on Ukraine’s right to choose its foreign policy,” Frye said.
Following Biden’s summit with NATO leaders on Monday, Zelenskiy tweeted that NATO had agreed that his country could join the alliance, prompting some analysts to speculate that Putin might cancel his Wednesday summit with Biden.
Price @NATO partners’ understanding of all the risks and challenges we face. NATO leaders have confirmed that sal will become a member of the Alliance and the United States # CARD is an integral part of the membership process. ?? deserves appreciation for his role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security
– Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) 14 June 2021
Asked if Ukraine should join NATO at the end of its summit, Biden said: “It depends on whether they meet the criteria.”
“The fact is that they still have to clean up corruption. They still have to meet other criteria. The school is not yet aware of that,” Biden said.
But Biden defends Ukraine against Russia. “We will do everything in our power to put Ukraine in a position to withstand Russian physical aggression,” he said.
Strategic stability, diplomatic exchanges, cyber attacks
The government of Biden has stated that their goal is to establish a stable and predictable relationship with Moscow.
“In Biden-speak, a stable and predictable relationship does not even mean a limited partnership, but is limited to managing a largely conflicting relationship,” Frye of Columbia said.
Unlike strategic stability, Frye added that a modestly successful US summit would also include a commitment to further talks on cyber-works and nuclear weapons. It will also include some agreement on the return of ambassadors and increased diplomatic staff in both countries.
U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan and Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov returned to their respective homelands earlier this year amid deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia. Both are in Geneva and took part in the extensive part of the summit.
In April, Biden suspended ten Russian diplomats and imposed new sanctions on companies linked to the break-in of the SolarWinds information technology company. The hack spread to SolarWinds’ customers – US companies and government agencies.
In May, two US companies involved in important goods – fuel and meat – targeted cyber attacks that allegedly originated in Russia. Both companies paid millions of dollars in ransom to restore their business operations, although U.S. law enforcement officers recovered most of the money Colonial Pipeline paid.
Putin has denied US allegations of interference in the election, cyber attacks, human rights abuses and the elimination of political opposition, including by nerve agent poisoning. Moscow claims to be a victim of Western anti-Russian sentiment.
Prior to his meeting with Putin, Biden attended the G-7, NATO and EU summit and sought to advance relations with allies and consult with them on US-Russia talks.
As in previous meetings, China is a key driver in US-Russia talks. “The Biden government wants to keep Russia, but only involves enough to dampen any unity between Russia and China,” Vinathamuri of Chatham House said.
Moscow and Beijing have forged closer ties in recent years, including deeper military ties. Both have largely similar foreign policies and expansionist ambitions, with corresponding interests in rejecting what they see as the American and European efforts to apply a ‘liberal’ character to the rule-based international order.