While no major breakthroughs were announced after the highly anticipated summit between the presidents of the United States and Russia in Switzerland on Wednesday, there was one clear winner emerging from it: Vladimir Putin.
In the first minute of the meeting, [President Joe] “Biden gave him a gift,” Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist and co-author of several books on Russia, told BuzzFeed News from London. “[Biden] He said that Russia and the United States are “two superpowers.”
It certainly wasn’t the superlative praise that Donald Trump gave Putin during their disastrous 2018 summit in Helsinki that had a senior White House adviser. I wish she had faked a medical emergency to end it abruptly.
But by equalizing the power of the two countries, even if that wasn’t what Biden intended to do, Soldatov said, “Putin got exactly what he wanted.”
Geneva rolled out the red carpet for the two leaders, lined streets with their countries’ flags and cordoned off most of the area around the lakeside villa where they would meet. Meanwhile, dozens of reporters Shouted Positions close to them and cable news channels listed their every move as they began their high-profile conversations.
The summit was carefully designed by the American side to ensure that there were no mishaps or moments that would show that the two leaders were too friendly, as was the case during the Trump-Putin summit, and to not allow Putin to set the pace. For example, the United States asked Putin, whose movement is to appear late for such events to freeze his opponents, to arrive first at the meeting. They also avoided holding a joint press conference.
Looking awkward at first and even annoyed at times during the first minutes of the summit, Putin rolled his eyes toward the ground and away from Biden, tapped on the arm of his chair while taking pictures, and dug his tongue into his cheek. But make no mistake: The Russian president knew he was center stage, in the geopolitical spotlight, despite being excluded from the G7 and made a pariah after a series of cyberattacks, election interference and military invasions of neighboring Ukraine, just to name a few Moscow’s aggressive actions. In the last years.
After a little more than three hours — at least less than an hour of closed-door conversations — Putin first appeared before reporters at his one-on-one press conference. Dumping the sulky look he wore earlier in the day, the Russian leader seemed happy with himself, seeming to enjoy the media attention.
Speaking of the discussions, Putin said there was no animosity or animosity between him and Biden, and described their meeting as “constructive” but that their views and views were “diverging.” He said both sides showed a desire to understand each other and bring their positions closer, but noted that he did not budge an inch on big issues such as human rights in Russia and the war in Ukraine, which his army invaded in 2014 and now controls two swathes of territory.
Biden, speaking at his later press conference, said he emphasized human rights issues at the meeting. I will continue to say that… We do not derive our rights from the government. “We own them because we were born,” Biden said. “interval.”
For this reason, Biden continued, the United States will continue to raise issues such as the persecution and prosecution of people like Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader imprisoned in Russia on charges widely seen as retaliation for his political activities.
And on Navalny, Putin told reporters that he and Biden have completely different positions. He said Navalny learned he had broken the law when he was medically evacuated to Germany 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 made it clear to him that the consequences would be devastating for Russia.”
Delighted at the opportunity to criticize the United States for its civil rights struggles, Putin also raised police brutality in the United States and frequent mass shootings: “You can’t open your mouth before you’re shot,” he said.
On the issue of hot cyberwarfare, Biden said he and Putin agreed to have further discussions about keeping certain types of critical infrastructure out of cyberattacks after recent incidents in the United States that saw the shutdown of a major gas pipeline and meat processing plant. . Biden also said he has been very clear with Putin about how the United States will respond if the attacks continue.
“We will respond electronically,” Biden said.
Putin said he and Biden agreed to find ways to cooperate on the issue of climate change, particularly in the Arctic. He said he had found common ground with Biden on the issue of arms control, saying that as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, they understood their responsibility. Noting that Biden made the “timely and necessary” decision to extend the New START treaty for five years, he said they agreed to start negotiations on a new agreement. This means that diplomats and military experts from the two countries will soon meet for a “strategic stability dialogue” to lay the groundwork for the new treaty, Biden said.
Putin also said that Russia and the United States agreed that each other’s ambassadors “should return to their posts and take up their duties” in the near future.
But apart from that, it appears that there have been no major breakthroughs from the top.
This is not surprising. White House officials said ahead of the summit that they did not expect the meeting to lead to any major political agreements, and instead described it as the first step to establishing a working relationship between the two presidents. They last met a decade ago and had what Biden described as a tense exchange. (Biden said He told then-Prime Minister Putin, “I don’t think you have a soul.”)
Unlike embarrassing 2018 meeting in Helsinki between Putin and Trump, who praised the Russian leader and said he trusted him over US intelligence personnel when Putin asserted that the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 elections, this summit was not expected to be a cordial relationship.
For months, the two countries exchanged barbs. In March, Biden Putin described as a ‘murderer’ – A note described by the Kremlin as “very bad”. They then summoned their ambassador in Washington to “analyze what to do” about the relations between the two countries; The Kremlin later asked the US ambassador to return home.
In the days leading up to the Geneva summit, Biden appeared to soften his stance in hopes of laying a more friendly ground on which Putin could meet, calling him a bright, ruthless, and “worthy enemy.” But Biden also said he would not take his counterpart’s words seriously and would “check it out and then trust him.”
However, with relations between the United States and Russia at their lowest level since the Cold War, holding the face-to-face meeting at an all-time high was a positive development, according to some experts.
“He’s definitely not talking for the sake of talking. Biden … understands the dance of diplomacy. It’s an acknowledgment of knowing how the Russian system works,” Matthew Rogansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, told BuzzFeed News. Protecting Russia’s escalating behavior, you can’t do it at lower levels.”
The United States and Russia jointly statement Issued at the conclusion of the summit he said Biden and Putin “have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to advance our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic realm, reducing the risks of armed conflict and the threat of nuclear war.”
So, will Wednesday’s meeting lead to an improvement or a new phase in US-Russian relations?
Biden said it will take three to six months to see if the summit has produced results.
For his part, Putin said it was “hard to say” and noted that the ball was in Washington’s court.
“Everything about the deterioration of our mutual relations was started not by us, but by the United States,” Putin said falsely.
Then he added, quoting the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy: “There is no happiness in life. There is only a mirage on the horizon, so cherish it.”