First face-to-face Biden-Putin: in search of the thaw despite language reminiscent of the Cold War

“They will regret more than they have in a long time.” That phrase, spoken by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was addressed to the West, or what is the same as the European Union and above all to USA. Relations between the two countries are, in Putin’s own words, “at their lowest point.”

Moscow had a good disposition during Trump’s tenure and indeed a great case was generated: whether Putin had intervened in the election campaign or not for the tycoon to win the election. The Russian president has never hidden his sympathy for Trump, whom he has described as an extraordinary and talented man. “

With Joe Biden things are different. This Wednesday both leaders will maintain in Geneva their first bilateral meeting (although they spoke for a few minutes as Biden’s welcome to the White House). The meeting is expected to last about four hours, as pointed out by sources from the Biden Administration, and that face-to-face comes in the midst of an almost warlike language on both sides, which is even reminiscent of the tone used in the Cold War.

Sanctions and a “murderer” charge

In March, dialectical hostilities began with a Biden who, almost new to power, called Putin a “murderer”, in an accusation that for many was “unprecedented”. He did so in the Alexey Navalni case. The arrest and conviction of the opponent sparked a string of sanctions from both the United States and the European Union. Putin wasted no time in responding to the “provocations” with restrictive measures and wishing to his American counterpart “good health”, not without ironic tone.

In addition, the Biden Administration also approved another block of sanctions against Moscow precisely because of its possible involvement in the 2016 election campaign. The summit this Wednesday, seen as seen, makes any rapprochement difficult. Biden, in fact, he assured last week that Washington “will respond in a solid way.” when the Moscow Government “engages in harmful activities”.

“We are going to report that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracy in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.”

The United States, contrary to what happened with Trump, wants the EU close, which necessarily implies moving away from Russia as the geopolitical scenario is. “We have already proven it. We will report that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracy in the United States, Europe and other places, “added Biden then, who recalled that only after meeting with” the closest democratic partners “would he see Putin. This is how it will happen: Biden arrives in Geneva after being in Brussels at the summit of NATO, in which the US wanted to show its “return to multilateralism.”

And precisely at that summit Biden did not want to offer details about his expectations about the results of the meeting with Putin, Biden said that he will make it clear “where the red lines are.” He was resounding: “I am going to make it clear to President Putin that there are areas in which we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in the what you have done in the past, regarding cybersecurity and other activities, then we will respond“, settled.

Biden advises Putin that "will respond with the same coin" if you insist on confrontation

While Biden is direct, Putin pulls irony whenever he can. Of course, it was he who first called a “direct” bilateral meeting, and argued that it would be “interesting for the people of Russia, the United States, and other countries.”, in clear reference to the EU. That moment has come. “I have great hope that there will be some advantages and some disadvantages, but there will be no impulsive movement,” said the Russian president about the meeting days ago.

The EU, next to Biden

The EU, as expected, has taken Biden’s side. This Tuesday the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, claimed that Washington “returns” to global leadership after the turmoil experienced during the Donald Trump era. “You are back in Brussels and America is back on the global scene. This is good news for its partners and for the world,” said Michel.

Putin, on the other hand, looks from the other side, and no great progress is expected from the Geneva meeting, although it can serve to cause a certain thaw between two leaders who have only collided in recent months. Putin was more comfortable with Trump and Biden is uncomfortable with Putin. In case the context does not have enough ingredients, the meeting will take place the centrally located Hotel Intercontinental, which has a long and well-known history of hosting diplomatic negotiations between Americans and Russians. One more meeting to the list.


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