After the highly anticipated summit between the US and Russian presidents in Switzerland on Wednesday, although no major breakthroughs were announced, there was a clear winner: 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 in London.[Biden] Say that Russia and the United States are’two big countries’. “
This is certainly not the flattering praise of Donald Trump to Putin during the disastrous 2018 Helsinki summit, which had a senior White House adviser Hope she faked a medical emergency To end suddenly.
But Soldatov said that by equating the strengths of the two countries, even if this was not Biden’s original intention, “Putin also got what he wanted.”
Geneva rolled out the red carpet for the two leaders, flags of their respective countries were hung on both sides of the street, and blocked most of the area around the lakeside villa where they met.At the same time, dozens of reporters Yelling For positions closely related to them, the cable news channel recounted their every move when they started high-level talks.
The summit is carefully planned by the US to ensure that there will be no accidents or moments that show that the two leaders are too friendly like the Trump-Putin summit, and that Putin will not set the tone and rhythm of the event. For example, the United States requires Putin to attend the meeting first, and Putin’s transfer of power is to be late to ice his opponent in such incidents. They also avoided the joint press conference.
Putin initially appeared embarrassed and sometimes angry in the first few minutes of the summit. He turned his gaze to the ground and away from Biden, tapped the arm of the chair while taking pictures, and stuck his tongue into his cheek. But please don’t get me wrong: Although the Russian president has been excluded from the G7 and spurned after a series of cyber attacks, election interference, and military invasion of neighboring Ukraine, he knows he is in the geopolitical spotlight. The central figure, to name just a few examples of Moscow’s aggressive behavior in recent years.
After more than three hours of closed-door talks-at least an hour shorter than planned-Putin first appeared in front of reporters to attend his separate press conference. Getting rid of the pouting earlier in the day, the Russian leader seemed satisfied with himself and even seemed to enjoy media attention.
When talking about the discussion, Putin stated that there was no hostility or hostility between him and Biden, calling their meeting “constructive,” but their views and opinions were “different.” He said that both sides showed a desire to understand each other and bring their positions closer, but he said that he did not compromise on major issues such as human rights in Russia and the war in Ukraine. His army invaded Ukraine in 2014 and now controls these issues. . Two large territories.
Biden later said at his press conference that he emphasized human rights issues at the meeting. “I will always say that… Our rights are not obtained from the government. We own them because we are born,” Biden said. “period.”
This is why, Biden continued, the United States will continue to raise issues such as the persecution and prosecution of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is widely regarded as being involved in his political activities. Imprisoned in Russia for revenge.
On the Navalny issue, Putin told reporters that he and Biden have completely different positions. He said Navalny knew he had violated the law after he was sent to Germany for medical treatment after being poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent last summer. When asked by reporters what would happen if Putin allowed Navalny to die in prison, Biden said: “I made it clear to him that this would be devastating for Russia.”
Putin was very happy to have the opportunity to criticize the civil rights struggle in the United States. He also mentioned the brutality of the American police and frequent mass shootings: “You can barely speak until you are shot,” he said.
On the hot issues of cyber warfare, Biden said that he and Putin agreed to further discuss the protection of certain types of critical infrastructure from cyber attacks following the recent closure of major natural gas pipelines and meat processing plants in the United States. . Biden also said that if the attack continues, he and Putin are very clear about how the United States will respond.
“We will respond online. He knows,” Biden said.
Putin said that he and Biden have agreed to find ways to cooperate on climate change issues, especially in the Arctic. He said that he and Biden have found common ground on the issue of arms control, saying that as the world’s top nuclear power, they understand their responsibilities. He pointed out that Biden had made a “timely and necessary” decision to extend the “New Arms Treaty” for five years, and said that they agreed to start negotiations on a new agreement. Biden said that this means that diplomats and military experts of the two countries will soon hold a “strategic stability dialogue” to lay the foundation for the new treaty.
Putin also stated that Russia and the United States agreed that each other’s ambassadors “should return to their posts and perform their duties in the near future”.
But beyond that, the summit does not seem to have a major breakthrough.
This is not surprising. White House officials said before the summit that they did not expect the meeting to reach any major policy agreement, but described it as the first step in establishing a working relationship between the two presidents. The last time they met was ten years ago, and they had what Biden called intense exchanges. (Biden said he Told then Prime Minister Putin, “I don’t think you have a soul.”)
Not like embarrassing Putin and Trump met in Helsinki in 2018Putin said that when the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 election, he flattered the Russian leader and said that he trusted him instead of American intelligence personnel. The summit never expected to be a friendly event.
For months, the two countries have been engaged in barb deals. March, Biden Calling Putin the “killer” -The Kremlin described it as “very bad”. They subsequently recalled the ambassador to Washington to “analyze what needs to be done” on the relationship between the two countries; the Kremlin later asked the US ambassador to return home.
In the days before the Geneva summit, Biden seemed to soften his position, hoping to lay a more friendly foundation for him to meet Putin, calling him smart, tough and “a worthy opponent.” But Biden also said that he would not believe his words, but would “verify and then trust” him.
Nevertheless, some experts said that holding the highest-level face-to-face meetings is a positive development when US-Russian relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War.
“Definitely not speaking for the sake of speaking. Biden…understands the dance of diplomacy,” Matthew Royansky, director of the Kenan Institute at the Wilson Center, told BuzzFeed News. “This is a recognition of understanding how the Russian system works. If what you are trying to do is to guard Russia’s escalating behavior, you can’t just do it at a lower level.”
United States and Russia statement The news released at the end of the summit stated that Biden and Putin “have proven that even in times of tension, they can make progress on our common goal of ensuring predictability in the strategic area and reducing the risks and threats of armed conflict.” nuclear war. “
So, will the meeting on Wednesday lead to an improvement or a new stage in US-Russian relations?
Biden said that it will take three to six months to know whether the summit will achieve results.
As far as Putin is concerned, he said it was “hard to tell” and hinted that the ball was on the court in Washington.
“Everything related to the deterioration of our mutual relations was not initiated by us, but by the United States,” Putin said incorrectly.
Then he added, quoting the words of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy: “There is no happiness in life. There are only mirages on the horizon, so cherish it.”