Biden and Putin Meets In Geneva To Discuss the Full Range of Pressing Issues

GENEVA (June 16, 2021)—today President Joe Biden met with  with President Valdamir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland today. The  leaders are expected to discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” the White House said in a statement.  The high stakes meeting comes 3 years after former President Donald J. Trump meeting with President Putin in in Helsinki, Finland. 
 
In its own statement, the Kremlin said, “We intend to discuss the state and prospects of further development of Russian-American relations, problems of strategic stability, as well as topical issues on the international agenda, including interaction in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts.”

“With relations between Russia and the United States at a post–Cold War nadir, the upcoming meeting between the two countries’ presidents is good news. But this is an opening, not in all likelihood an occasion where the myriad thorny issues in U.S.-Russia relations will be solved,” says Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and an expert on Russia.

“In that sense it parallels the meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan — also in Geneva — in November 1985, which signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have it in their power to lay the groundwork for real progress.”

“Remarks from the Kremlin and the White House about ‘strategic stability’ indicate that Biden and Putin both see nuclear arms control as the key issue, and the one on which they stand the best chance of making progress. They are right: Washington and Moscow have the greatest degree of overlapping interests on the nuclear question, as neither wants another expensive (and potentially destabilizing) arms race. Hopefully the Geneva meeting will be the beginning of the process of negotiating a follow-on to the New START Treaty.”

“On other issues, I expect much less progress. Biden should send clear deterrent signals about Russian activities in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and elsewhere. The same goes for Russian malign activities in cyberspace targeting the United States and for the human-rights situation in Russia, especially the incarceration of Alexei Navalny.”

“But here, U.S. and Russian interests are far from aligned, and beyond being explicit about consequences, Biden’s room for maneuver — and leverage — is limited. Putin has made political hay of the tensions between the two states in the past, and it is likely he will keep doing so as he eyes a future at the helm of Russia lasting until 2036.”

“One more potential parallel with the November 1985 Geneva summit stands out: When Reagan came home, he was pilloried by his fellow Republicans. Newt Gingrich, for example, derided the summit as ‘the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.’ I think we can expect similar political points-scoring after this one.”

“We expect they will spend a fair amount of time on strategic stability, where the arms control agenda goes following the extension of New START,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s briefing.
 
She continued, “The President will also raise Ukraine, underscoring America’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and he will also plan to raise Belarus and convey our grave concerns — as he has now done publicly — privately.”
 
“Well, we may have forgotten over the last couple of years, but this is how diplomacy works. … We don’t meet with people only when we agree. It’s actually important to meet with leaders when we have a range of disagreements, as we do with Russian leaders,” she said.
 
Do not expect a meeting of the minds between the leaders.

Source: Duke Today contributed to the article and the White House.

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