Wednesday, October 20

The White House and the Kremlin rule out “resetting” relations between the US and Russia




Since he got off the plane, Joe Biden she gives a reassuring smile that seems to mean that everything is going to be fine on the shores of Lake Geneva. He has also smiled as he gave the first handshake to Putin, with whom he has already shared a first half hour with television cameras present, before cloistering himself in the reduced format provided for at this summit, a first meeting in which only the two presidents, their two foreign ministers, and two translators will be present. Without being able to hear what was being said in those first minutes of meeting, it is possible to resort to non-verbal language. They barely looked into each other’s eyes while saying those first sentences; Putin stares into infinity, perhaps showing greater arrogance, and Biden looks down at the ground, possibly more saddened. «Distrust is enormous“Confirms a member of the American delegation.

In these first few minutes, Putin He speaks, to avoid the awkward silence, while Biden is more reserved. At the end of the day, it was he who suggested the holding of this summit and that he will be held accountable for the outcome of the meeting. The position also tells us something: Biden crosses his legs, in a gesture of resistance, while Putin, astride and slapping his thighs, seems impatient to finish the pose and the most inconsequential comments to get to the point with a more ground-breaking spirit . Neither of them seems willing to reset the bilateral relations with respect to what they were during the presidency of Donald Trump.

“The word reset, in fact, is forbidden in the White House, especially with regard to foreign policy,” confirms the same member of the American delegation, “there is still time to talk about a new beginning of True, but the foundations can be laid today ». The tone of the summit, in his opinion, is “Above all pragmatic”.

“I do not expect great advances”

“I do not expect great progress,” he said. Vladimir Putin to Russian media before starting the summit, acknowledging that relations between the two countries are at their “lowest point in decades” and that he does not expect “great progress” from the meeting at La Grange in Geneva. The best that Russia aspires to is to restore “personal contacts, direct dialogue and to create functional mechanisms in areas of mutual interest”, He said, determined to bet on pragmatism and open to cooperate in areas such as stability, arms control and cybersecurity, as well as the fight against terrorism and the coronavirus.

Putin, in fact, raised two proposals last year that the US has ignored until now and would like to be taken into account, as expected by a country convinced of its global geostrategic importance: the introduction of a moratorium on the deployment of short-term missiles. medium-range in Europe and the resumption of cooperation in the field of international information security. The Russian president considers “destructive” the US policy that led to the abandonment of the anti-missile treaty in 2002, the elimination of short and medium-range nuclear missiles (INF) in 2019 and Open Skies in 2020, an agreement multilateral that guarantees transparency in arms control.

In fact, only one disarmament treaty between the two powers remains, the New Start, prolonged at the beginning of the year until 2026. Russia wants to broaden the agenda and include new types of weapons, such as hypersonic, that are not part of that treaty, but without great expectations. Putin has acknowledged that he does not expect “a restart of relations.” “There will be no major change in Russian-American relations,” says the political scientist and deputy director of the research programs of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, Dimitri Súslov, “they will remain hostile, confrontational, although it would be expected that suspend the diplomatic war for now and return home the ambassadors, retired since April.

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