Although no major progress was made after the forthcoming US-Russian summit in Switzerland on Wednesday, one clear winner emerged: Vladimir Putin.
“In the very first minute of the match [President Joe] “Biden gave him a present,” Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist and co-author of several books about Russia, told BuzzFeed News in London. «[Biden] Russia and the United States are “two great powers.”
Certainly not the slanderous praise that Donald Trump offered Putin during the catastrophic 2018 summit in Helsinki, which had one White House top adviser. wishing he had fake emergency medical care so that it ends abruptly.
But equalizing the power of the two peoples, even if Biden did not want to do it, Soldatov said. “Putin got what he wanted.”
The role was rolled out for the two leaders on the red carpet, lining the streets with the flags of their respective countries, encircling the area around the beach villa where they would meet. Meanwhile, many journalists noisy For their positions, they were told about every step they took when they started high-level negotiations.
The summit was described in detail by the American side in order to ensure that incidents or moments that show that the two leaders were as friendly as they were during the Trump-Putin summit, did not allow Putin to determine the tone and pace of events. For example, the United States has asked that Putin, whose step is too late to show such events to freeze his opponents, arrive at the meeting first. They also avoided a joint press conference.
During the first minutes of the summit, Putin was sometimes uncomfortable, even nervous, looking at Biden, tapping on a chair during a photo shoot, digging his tongue into his cheek. But make no mistake. The Russian president knew that he was in the center of geopolitical attention, despite the fact that he had been expelled from the Group of Seven nations, had flown to neighboring Ukraine after a series of cyber attacks, election interference, and military incursions. just to name a few of Moscow’s aggressive actions in recent years.
More than three hours after the closed-door talks, at least an hour earlier than scheduled, Putin appeared before reporters for his first personal press conference. At the beginning of the day, the Russian leader was pleased with himself, even though he seemed to enjoy the attention of the media.
Speaking about the discussions, Putin said that there was no animosity between Biden and him, calling their meeting “constructive”, but their opinions and perspectives “different”. He said that both sides wanted to understand each other, to bring their positions closer, but he said that he had not spent an inch on such big issues as human rights in Russia, the war in Ukraine, which invaded his military in 2014. two large areas.
Speaking at a press conference later, Biden said he stressed human rights issues at the meeting. “I will continue to say that … We do not take our rights from the government. “We have them since we were born,” Biden said. “Era.”
That is why, Biden continued, the United States will continue to raise issues such as the persecution of people like Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader imprisoned in Russia on charges of revenge for his political activities.
Regarding Navalny, Putin told reporters that he and Biden have very different positions. He said Navalny knew he had broken the law when he was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok last summer. Asked by a reporter what would happen if Putin allowed Navalny to die in prison, Biden said: “I understood that the consequences would be devastating for Russia.”
“Blessed to fight the United States for its civil rights, Putin also escalated police brutality in the United States, his frequent mass shootings.” You can hardly open your mouth before he is killed, “he said.
On the issue of the hot button of cyber warfare, Biden said that he and Putin had agreed to block some possible infrastructure for further discussions following the recent cyber-attacks in the United States, which led to the closure of a large gas pipeline and meat processing plant. “Biden said he was clear about Putin and how the United States would respond if the attacks continued.
“We will respond in cyber mode. He knows, “said Biden.
Putin said he and Biden had agreed to work together on climate change, particularly in the Arctic. And he said that he and Biden had found common ground on arms control, saying that as the world’s nuclear powers, they understood their responsibility. He noted that Biden had made a “timely and necessary” decision to extend the new START contract for another five years, and said that they agreed to start discussions on a new contract. Biden noted that this means that diplomats and military experts from the two countries will soon meet for a “strategic stability dialogue” to lay the groundwork for a new agreement.
Putin also said that Russia and the United States agree that each other’s ambassadors “should return to their posts and assume their functions” in the near future.
But beyond that, there did not seem to be any serious progress since the summit.
This is not surprising. White House officials said before the summit that they did not expect the meeting to lead to any major political agreement, but described it as the first step in establishing a working relationship between the two presidents, who last met a decade ago. Biden described it as a tense exchange. (Biden said said then-Prime Minister Putin“I do not think you have a soul.”
In contrast to the shameful The meeting of Putin and Trump in Helsinki in 2018, who flattered the Russian leader, said he trusted US intelligence when Putin insisted that the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 election, and that the summit would never be a friendly affair.
The two countries have been trading for months. In March, Biden Called Putin a “murderer” – a reprimand that the Kremlin described as “very bad”. After that, they recalled their ambassador to DC to “analyze what needs to be done” on the relations between the countries. The Kremlin later asked the US ambassador to return home as well.
A few days before the Id summit, Biden seemed to soften his stance, hoping to create a more friendly basis on which he could meet Putin, calling him a bright, tough, “worthy opponent.” But Biden also said he would not accept his partner as he said he would “approve and then trust” him.
Still, relations between the United States and Russia have been at an all-time low since the Cold War, with some experts saying that a face-to-face meeting at the highest level was a positive development.
“It simply came to our notice then. “Biden … understands the dance of diplomacy,” Matthew Rochansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, told BuzzFeed News. “It recognizes how the Russian system works. “If what you are trying to do is put a damper on Russia’s escalating behavior, you will not be able to do it not only at low levels.”
US-Russia joint announcement: A statement issued at the end of the summit said that Biden and Putin “have shown that even in the face of tensions, they are able to make progress in our strategic goals of achieving predictability, reducing the risk of armed conflict and threat.” nuclear war. “
So will Wednesday’s meeting lead to a normalization of US-Russian relations or a new phase?
Biden said it would take three to six months to see if the summit had worked.
For his part, Putin said it was “difficult to say” and suggested that the ball was in Washington’s court.
“Everything that has deteriorated in our relations has not been initiated by us, but by the United States,” Putin falsely said.
Then he added, commenting on Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. “There is no happiness in life. There is only a mirage on the horizon, so cherish it. ”