The summit of the Russian Federation and the United States seems to have been more effective than Putin’s meeting with the previous American leader, Donald Trump. Here, Mr. Biden’s diplomacy must be given its due.
Putin more than once noted the constructiveness of the conversation and even singled out the current US president from the rest of the world leaders – “not everyone can talk like this face to face.” The words of the President of the Russian Federation about the “key of principle” also made it clear that there was some confrontation and distance between the parties.
Nevertheless, the issues of a foreign policy character were covered by the President of the Russian Federation with the utmost precision and exhaustiveness. This speaks of the clear position of the Russian leadership on this issue and the intention to toughly defend and defend the interests of the Russian Federation.
At Biden’s press conference, a slightly different, much more imperative rhetoric sounded. This is a feature of American political culture. Judging by the results and agreements, it is not easy to identify the losers and winners – it was not for nothing that Putin refused to “bill” the meeting.
1. Return of diplomats and exchange of prisoners
First of all, Putin voiced a positive signal about the return of diplomatic representatives of both countries to work and the announcement of the start of consultations on the diplomatic track. This is undoubtedly an important point, without which the entire effectiveness of the negotiations would be called into question. The decision justified the feeling of “cautious optimism” felt by many observers of today’s meeting. In addition, Putin announced the possibility of finding compromises on the issues of mutual release of prisoners in the Russian Federation and the United States. No specifics, but the moment is clearly encouraging.
The heads of the Russian Federation and the United States agreed to begin consultations on cybersecurity “at the expert level.” At the same time, Putin’s response to the accusations of cyber attacks on the United States sounded principled: “Russia is not the country that is on the list of the main sites for cybercriminals”; attacks, even in large numbers, are being conducted against the Russian Federation from the territory of the United States, and the interaction on them on the part of American departments leaves much to be desired for significant improvements. Biden’s position, which he voiced at a press conference, is also firm: “we will not tolerate,” “in case of violations, there will be consequences.” Whether the beginning of the consultations can be counted as a victory for Biden – hardly. No admission of guilt on the part of Russia sounded for sure. Here, rather, both countries have urgent issues, and they agreed to resolve these issues.
3. Strategic stability
The President of the Russian Federation mentioned Biden’s extension of the START-3 Treaty, emphasized its timeliness and announced the start of consultations at the interdepartmental level. Nuclear safety issues require utmost caution and coordination of joint actions – this is what we got, which cannot but rejoice.
4. Navalny and the topic of human rights in Russia
This topic at the press conference seemed to be an obligatory part in the question of every member of the American press. It got to the point that Putin several times had to repeat the same words explaining the position of the Russian government on the organization of the FBK: “The US Congress passed a law declaring the Russian Federation an enemy and committed itself to supporting the necessary political organizations in Russia.” Which organizations they will support – here you can add two and two. About Navalny, without habitually mentioning his name, Putin said the following: he knew that he was breaking the law, was obliged to report, left, returned and, as a result, was arrested of his own free will.
It is worth noting that the unjustified desire of American journalists to duplicate the same question at Putin’s press conference cast doubt on their interest in key aspects of relations between the Russian Federation and the United States and was more like a provocation.
“I don’t see a single problem that we could not solve”: the President of the Russian Federation noted that the US concern about Russia’s militarization of the Arctic has no grounds. The head of the Russian Federation did not voice any specific agreements reached on this topic (except for the readiness to pass ships in external waters, which is already established by international law), but showed a commitment to protecting the interests of the Russian Federation in the northern latitudes.
6.Ukraine and its accession to NATO
Here Putin and Biden agreed on the need to implement the Minsk agreements – this is an important moment that determines further work. However, according to the President of the Russian Federation, the United States proposed an implementation that significantly contradicts the clauses of these agreements: return the Ukrainian Armed Forces to Donbass, close the border between Russia and Ukraine, and hold elections three months after these two steps. “You don’t have to be a lawyer” to see inconsistencies, Putin said. This issue obviously needs further elaboration. As for the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, here, according to Putin, “there is nothing to discuss” – the topic was touched upon with a smear.
Summing up the results of the meeting, Putin paraphrased Leo Tolstoy’s capacious phrase: “In such a situation there can be no family trust, but it seems to me that its lightning flashed.”
The meeting between the leaders of the United States and the Russian Federation did not bring a breakthrough in relations between the two countries. Nobody expected him. But its very fact should not be underestimated. The leaders of the superpowers are responsible for a stable situation in the world and are clearly aware of this – such a summary of the meeting will be the most honest. However, so far, in the case of both countries, constructive statements in a large proportion have been diluted with a mass of mutual accusations, which became especially noticeable in the press conferences of the leaders of states.