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President Joe Biden’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, is poised to be one of his biggest tests yet as commander-in-chief and will mark his first big face-to-face meeting with a US adversary on the global stage.
Relations between the US and Russia have been deteriorating for years, and Washington has struggled to come up with an effective response to Putin’s increasingly aggressive behavior both at home and abroad. Experts warn that Putin has no intention of using the meeting to improve relations, and question what Biden has to gain via the summit.
“Analysts are struggling to understand what concrete outcomes President Biden will achieve in return for giving Vladimir Putin such an important international spotlight in return for Russia’s increased malign behavior,” Heather Conley, a former senior official for European issues in the State Department under President George W. Bush, told Insider.
“If there aren’t clear deliverables (and both sides have been downplaying outcomes), I think criticism will grow that this high-level meeting ultimately benefited the Kremlin,” Conley, now director of the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, went on to say.
The US has struggled to influence Russia’s behavior amid historic tensions
The historically contentious dynamic between the US and Russia can in many ways be traced back to Putin’s unilateral annexation of Crimea in 2014, but it’s been exacerbated by a range of other issues in the years since. The ongoing war in eastern Ukraine involving Kremlin-backed rebels, the Syria conflict, Russia’s interference in US elections, the Kremlin’s treatment of critics like Alexei Navalny, the propping up of Belarus’s authoritarian leader, and concerns over hacking and cybersecurity have also driven a wedge between the two major powers.
Biden has sought to walk a fine line between condemning Russia over actions seen as detrimental to US interests, while also underscoring that Washington does not seek conflict with Moscow and wants a more stable, predictable relationship. But not even a year into his presidency, the US and Russia are engaged in an escalating diplomatic tit-for-tat.
The Biden administration’s actions to punish Russia, however, have yet to produce a demonstrable change in behavior from Putin.
The administration, for example, slapped sanctions on Russian officials over the poisoning of Navalny — Putin’s top critic — with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Meanwhile, Navalny has been imprisoned for 2 1/2 years over charges widely seen as politically motivated. And just a week before the Biden-Putin summit, Navalny’s political network was officially outlawed in Russia by being dubbed extremists. It was a clear message to Biden that Putin will continue to crackdown on dissent in extraordinary ways in spite of US pressure.
“Sanctions are essentially meaningless in changing the Kremlin’s calculations but they do challenge the Russian economy,” Conley said.
Biden and US allies aren’t on the same page about Russia
In many ways, former President Donald Trump set a low bar for Biden when it comes to Putin by consistently refusing to criticize the Russian president …read more
Source:: Business Insider