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Biden—Putin meeting: what the Presidents will talk about in Geneva

Photo: PG's collage

Photo: PG's collage

On June 16, 2021, US President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. On May 25, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, first announced this, and then the information was confirmed in the Kremlin.

According to Paski, it is expected that Putin and Biden will devote a lot of time to strategic stability and arms control issues after the extension of the new START Treaty.

The US President will also raise the issue of Ukraine and emphasize that the US supports its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Another difficult issue will be Belarus.

According to information published by the Kremlin press service, Biden and Putin are going to discuss "the state and prospects of further development of Russian-American relations, strategic stability and the international agenda, including the fight against the pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts."

In general, the meeting between Biden and Putin will become one of the main geopolitical events of this year. The Russian-American relations, the construction of Nord Stream 2, sanctions policy, the recent escalation near the eastern borders of Ukraine, the war in Donbas, the detention of the opposition leader and former editor-in-chief of the Telegram channel NEXTA Roman Protasevich in Minsk will be discussed.

According to political scientist Ihor Chalenko, the detention of Roman Protasevich is beneficial to the Kremlin, since Lukashenko saves it from a direct geopolitical blow and raises the stakes not only before the meeting with Biden, but also before the elections to the State Duma.

Ihor Chalenko
Ihor Chalenko
Political scientist

The situation with Ryanair, as well as additional bans on media activities, forced the world powers to express their "concern" with a number of statements and threats of stricter sanctions. The more Lukashenko is proactive in the issue of suppressing protest activity after the last presidential elections, the more he cleans the moth-eaten uniform jacket of "the last dictator of Europe". I do not see Minsk as the largest beneficiary in this situation. But this beneficiary is Moscow.

Russia was inches away from a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Who cares about that when its partner in the "union state" publicly is doing such savagery? The Kremlin’s ruler suddenly begins to sparkle in the sun, being almost more democratic than Batska for the domestic Russian voter. At the same time, he allegedly becomes reasonable, prepares to meet with Biden in Geneva and does not give additional grounds for delaying the construction of Nord Stream 2.

The meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will be the first since his election as the 46th President of the United States. In April of this year, Joe Biden, during a telephone conversation with Putin, suggested holding a summit meeting on "neutral territory" (in a third country) in the near future.

At that time Joe Biden expressed his concern about the build-up of forces near the eastern borders of Ukraine, as well as on the territory of the annexed Crimea. In this regard, Baden considered it necessary to discuss in a personal meeting "the entire range of issues that the United States and Russia face," which was reported at the time by the White House press service.

If the meeting took place at the moment of "muscle-flexing" on the part of Russia, Ukraine would become the main issue. Most likely, this time global themes related to energy and economic issues will also be widely discussed.

Political expert Yuriy Saukh predicts that the main themes will be issues of arms limitation and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, within the framework of the negotiation process, issues of energy stability, joint space exploration, international trade, Arctic exploration, environmental problems and global warming, the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the coordinated fight against international terrorism can be raised.

It is worth noting that the future meeting of Biden and Putin was preceded by a meeting on May 19 of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov on the "sidelines" of the Arctic Council session in Reykjavik. At this meeting, the issue of the release of American citizens and the continuing deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine and on its borders were raised, as stated in a press release from the Department of State on the outcome of the meeting. At the presidential meeting, these issues will be raised again.

Oleksandr Kraiev
Oleksandr Kraiev
Expert of the Foreign Policy Council "Ukrainian Prism"

There are several key themes that the White House has already spoken about many times—and none of them will be pleasant for Russia. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will discuss the situation around the escalation in the East of Ukraine, created by the Russian Federation. There will also be the theme of Nord Stream 2, SolarWinds hacker attacks and, after recent events, the issue of Belarus has been returned to the agenda. As we can see, all themes are related to sanctions, and in each of them the initiative is on the side of Washington.

The latest news about the lifting of some of the sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and, at the same time, the expansion of other sectoral sanctions related to the NS 2, caused understandable concern in Ukraine. Actually, it looks like Biden has prepared himself a set of trump cards against Putin. At this stage, all the sanctions that remain in force apply to all secondary players in the Nord Stream case—contractors, insurers, banks and others. However, sanctions of the highest order have long been prepared—against the project management, the main firm, and all key politicians interested in the project—both Russian and Western. Therefore, before meeting with Putin, Biden has all the trump cards in his arsenal. It seems to me that it is a very successful power strategy.

However, the meeting between Biden and Putin is expected not only by the foreign Ministries of the United States and Russia, but also by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because the meeting is also a diplomatic element for negotiations on resolving the military conflict in Donbas that is a top priority for the Ukrainian authorities.

Joe Biden, as we have already witnessed, is a friend and strategic partner of Ukraine and defends our interests in certain positions.

Yuriy Saukh
Yuriy Saukh
Political expert. Founder of the analytical group "Real PolitiX"

Undoubtedly, the scheduled meeting on June 16 on neutral territory in Geneva between the leaders of the United States and the Russian Federation will become one of the most significant geopolitical events of this year. The accumulated contradictions not only between Russia and America, but also between a number of so-called developing countries and countries of the Euro-Atlantic community with their satellites, require a thorough consideration and approval of the transitional principles of coexistence of global policy agents in the post-polar world.

I believe that in the context of the negotiation process, the Ukrainian issue will be raised and will become one of the key ones. However, as well as the Belarusian case in the light of the recent events. Of course, one should not expect from this meeting something breakthrough and supernatural in our problem. Therefore, we should not overly entertain illusions about the final and positive resolution of the Ukrainian issue following the results of this meeting. In this case, the very actualization of the conversation in this direction will create the necessary "window of opportunities" not just for dialogue interaction, but for practical ways of resolving the conflict in the east of our country in the future.

According to Oleksandr Kraiev, the withdrawal of troops from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine is a strategic issue. At this stage, it is important to understand that such a scenario, namely the retreat of the Russian Federation from our territories, is also a strategic goal for the Biden administration, and that can be seen from the current statements and decisions of his administration.

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