The closer the possible meeting between Putin and Biden gets, the more hype around it arises, sometimes turning into . Especially, of course, in recent days, Western observers and politicians have become sophisticated, adopting the tactics of the “Soviets” from the collapsed Soviet Union (USSR).
The Western media is in intensive mode assessing the prospects for a summit between the leaders of the two superpowers and making assumptions about a zero-sum game. They call Putin “cunning” and “two-faced,” and they try hard to make Biden a fluffy hero who will bravely look into the eyes of what he recently called a “murderer.”
The New York Times admits that the meeting will take place at the worst time in Russian-American relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago. To say that the two leaders have tense relations is an understatement, the newspaper states.
The Washington Post, a blatantly “pro-democracy” newspaper with its usual Russophobic fervor, puts forth the attitude of the Democratic Party of the United States straight from the mouth of Michael McFaul, former Ambassador to Russia and now Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies: “Biden should not seek to improve relations with Russia… Instead, Biden and his team must develop a comprehensive strategy to contain, and at times confront, Putin’s Russia.” At the same time, “specific recommendations” are given on various fronts, but not cooperation, but increased confrontation. In a word, the same “rake” that McFaul suggests the White House step on again, which he used to undermine the formerly built-up areas of cooperation between the US and Russia, as the American Ambassador to Moscow “who did not make history.”
If negotiations are to succeed, Joe Biden and the US government generally need “a big stick to wave at the Russian government,” Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told Fox News on June 5. This being the highest level of American analysis today, urging Washington to only wave sticks!
Even the European Parliament and the President of the European Parliament David-Maria Sassily attempted to gain political weight, using the upcoming meeting between Russia and the United States as an excuse to impose confrontation on Joe Biden before the meeting in Geneva and trying to cut into the dialogue between the two leaders. Some openly Russophobic statements have already been announced in Brussels. Washington has been offered a draft of a “joint statement” prepared for June 15, on the eve of the summit.
CNN, in its admiration of old American technology, on behalf of the US and its allies, sends a “message to Russia” with the supposedly steep demonstration flight near Russia’s borders of a task force of nearly 100 bombers of the US Air Force and NATO in Operation Allied Sky. Intended to “scare Putin” on the eve of the meeting with Biden in Geneva. In another publication, the same publication calls on Biden to aggressively discuss the conditions of detention in a Russian prison of an American, Paul Whelan, convicted of espionage in Russia, without a word about the inappropriate needs of Viktor Bout and several other Russian citizens in the US. Including those blatantly pirated by the CIA in third countries! As if proper human rights had to apply only to American prisoners abroad, while everyone else, including many political prisoners in the US, are “third-class” people for Washington.
The National Interest stresses that the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden comes at a good time, as Moscow and Washington are on the verge of a new nuclear arms race. Suggesting that Biden “play hardball,” the paper recommends trying to reach agreements on restrictions on intermediate-range missiles and missile defense systems and setting a precedent for limiting the size and range of both countries’ nuclear weapons. According to the paper, such a plan would impose restrictions on all types of weapons regardless of their range, location, and degree of combat readiness holds excellent potential for both Russia and the United States in the field of nuclear arms control.
NBC TV Network admits that the meeting with Vladimir Putin will give US President Joe Biden a crucial starting point that will determine how successful his various initiatives over the next three years will be. It is stressed that the White House understands that they are running a “race against time.” By the end of this year, members of Congress will be hard at work on their election campaigns. And suppose the Democratic Party (as often happens with the president’s party in midterm elections) loses control of the House of Representatives. In that case, Biden will lose the opportunity to achieve any severe legislative goals by the end of his term.
The White House has already shared the meeting expectations between Putin and Biden, saying they do not “expect any significant results.” According to the information available, the US side will not converge its positions; on the contrary, it may try to use this meeting to make a new set of claims and accusations against Russia. “So, giving some thought about this summit, fundamentally allowing us to communicate between our presidents what American intentions and capabilities are and to hear the same from the Russian side,” Sullivan specified. Asked whether it was timely to hold the summit now, the United States National Security Advisor said: “This is an appropriate situation for contact with Russia.”
On the eve of his meeting with the Russian leader, the US President himself published an article in The Washington Post in which he outlined what he would like to discuss in Switzerland. At the same time, he stated that he did not want to have a conflict with Russia and would like to have predictable and stable relations with it, although he intends to raise a point regarding its policy in Europe and respect for human rights. “When we meet, I will reiterate the commitment of the United States, Europe, and like-minded democracies to uphold human rights and dignity,” Joe Biden wrote in part.
It is noteworthy that the list of recent human rights claims against the United States itself, even by the UN, was quite long: capital punishment, racial discrimination, ill-treatment of prisoners, and the Guantanamo Bay prison, where prisoners are held without open trial. This is a partial list of the issues that interested members of the United Nations Human Rights Council during their consideration of the US periodic review report. Therefore, the call Foreign Affairs was entirely appropriate: “America, practice what you preach to others!”
Against the background of the confrontational and aggressive approach displayed by the US political elite in the run-up to the meeting, the plan proposed by Russia is strikingly different. In addition to bilateral issues, it includes aspects of international security, for which Russia and the US are jointly responsible as permanent members of the UN Security Council. This is a realistic and pragmatic approach because what else should the leaders of the two greatest powers, who are, to put it mildly, not on the best of terms, talk about at the first meeting but issues that can be attributed to shared responsibility?
And President Vladimir Putin reiterated this position the other day by stating that he should try to find ways to settle relations between the two countries. “We agree with the United States. They have only one disagreement – they want to stifle our development, they talk about it publicly. Everything else is a derivative of this position. Both economic restrictions and attempts to influence domestic political processes in our country by relying on the forces that they consider to be their own inside Russia, that’s the whole story,“ Putin said.
Although the Kremlin does not have inflated expectations for the meeting between Putin and Biden, it is nevertheless certain that even the beginning of a dialogue between the two countries is a positive step.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.