- by July Valentine
- The Guardian
- Issue #1967
On 16th June, an event advertised as at least noteworthy occurred in Geneva: the Putin-Biden summit. It was in large part driven by the United States’ need to declare its world domination by stating “America is back” while trying to diminish the growing power of China in world politics. Nonetheless, the summit proved to be substantial in establishing future negotiations between Russia and the US, as well as avoiding open military conflict – beyond what already exists – for some time.
In an interview for NBC News before the summit, Vladimir Putin remarked that “we have developed a strategic partnership relationship between Russia and China that previously had not been achieved in the history of our nations, a high level of trust and cooperation in all areas: in politics, in the economy, in the area of technology.” As it currently stands geopolitically and economically, Russia’s alliance with China is mutually beneficial, despite ideological differences. It would be naïve to imagine that the US had any hopes of interfering with this by the means of a summit, especially taking into consideration its sanctions and accusations directed at both countries.
Preparations for the event were messy. The summit was announced a mere three weeks prior to the date, leaving little time for proper planning. This reflected especially poorly on Biden, who amused all with a not-so-competent 30-minute scripted press conference restricted to American journalists, that resulted in him snapping at a CNN reporter. During this, he also demonstrated the wonders of the American education system and propaganda that seemingly influences working-class people and presidents alike, by stating: “Russia had an opportunity, that brief shining moment … to actually generate a democratic government” and “it failed.” This was presumably referring to the Russia of the 1990s, the darkest time of modern Russian history in which the illegal means of a government coup, with the enthusiastic support of US “advisers,” was used to overthrow the first socialist state. Perhaps he meant “brief shining moment of the US,” which it most certainly was. However what Biden describes as a failure is a government cast from the US mould, capitalist ruling class “democracy.”
In another curious part of the speech, Biden asks rhetorically: “How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country.” It seems that Biden does not recall the recent activity in Ukraine and Serbia, in which he was directly involved, and the colourful (indeed!) US history of colour-revolutions, election interference, coups, and military interventions.
Nevertheless, Putin optimistically noted that the two sides “differ in many respects” but “showed a willingness to understand each other and seek ways to bring the positions closer,” and the discussion with Biden proved to be “quite constructive.” However, the summit included an exchange of criticism on the topics of policy “predictability,” human rights, and cyber-security, with promises of closure in the near future on some issues.
Biden initially characterised Russia as “unpredictable” in its policies, which is somewhat ironic when, as Putin mentions, the United States boldly withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Agreement. For good measure, he added that there was nothing stable about orchestrating a coup in Ukraine either.
After calling Putin “a killer” for cheap media attention, it is not surprising that Biden raised a number of “human rights” concerns. Therefore, he brings up Navalny, a Russian reactionary public figure promoted by Western media propaganda, known for his flexible world-views and empty political statements. As Putin justifiably puts it: “The organisation in question, publicly, has called for riots and public disorder. It has openly instructed people in how to make Molotov cocktails so to use them against law enforcement. It called for the participation of underaged persons in riots.”
Objectively analysing Navalny’s actions, this is accurate. In addition, Putin rightfully counters Biden’s attempt at criticism by mentioning the Black Lives Matter movement, 400 people facing terms of 20-25 years in jail for their political demands during the US Congress, attacks in Afghanistan, and the existence of the Guantánamo Bay prison. This list was not nearly as extensive as it could have been, but it was enough argument to amuse even US journalists at Biden’s failed attempt to address the concerns.
US imperialism, represented in Biden’s figure, continues to target attacks at Russia (as well as China) on the basis of democracy and the freedom of the private sector. Judgeing from the US’ “best practice,” cybersecurity is an efficient tool for such accusations, as it seems that little evidence is needed to start pointing fingers. The US has publicly announced Russia responsible for two dissatisfactory election results, and for the recent mass-scale SolarWinds attack, without any factual material to support this. The latter seems to be an attempt to excuse the harsh reality of large organisations underfunding the cybersecurity sphere, and subsequently being unprepared for sophisticated cyber intrusion strategies of hackers that cannot be traced. If they cannot be traced, why not blame the Russians? According to Putin, 45 requests to the United States regarding cyber-attacks on Russian sites in 2020 were filed, and 35 in 2019; yet no response followed, despite strict procedures in place to do so.
In conclusion, both agreed to engage experts to resolve the existing and future cybersecurity issues.
STRATEGIC WEAPONS STABILITY DIALOGUE
The “two biggest nuclear powers” proposed a “strategic weapons stability dialogue,” a series of discussions aiming to reduce the risk of war between Russia and the US. This is likely an elaboration on the New START treaty that had recently been extended until 2026, putting a limit on long-range nuclear weapons.
Foreign relations with third parties did not seem to be the main focus of the summit; however, some key issues were brought to the table. Putin and Biden agreed on further proceeding with “diplomacy” in Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, although hostility was undoubtedly present, which is understandable in the circumstances of the US stubbornly pushing forward its interest in securing strategic weaponised positions on the Russian border.
Biden announced that Putin offered to help the US in the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to avoid the resurgence of terrorism there. However, we are yet to see how the US retreat plays out for Afghanistan in reality, and by what means the Biden administration will advance its influence in Central Asia. Biden also said that the United States is ready to provide “economic and physical security” to people in Syria and Libya. What this promised humanitarian mission will entail is … intriguing.
Representatives of both countries expressed the need to cooperate in the Arctic region, and Putin even put forward the joint work under the auspices of the Arctic Council, currently chaired by Russia. This will need further negotiation; however, it is a strong diplomatic notion against conflict in the area where the two countries share borders.
The agreement that both Russian and US ambassadors would return to their respective embassies was reached during the meeting. To the surprise of those who believed in the stabilisation of the Russia-US relations after the summit, on the same day, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the US was preparing new sanctions against Russia. Since then, Western media headlines portray Putin as a James Bond villain, masterfully manoeuvering out of uncomfortable questions, and Russian media makes a mockery of Biden.
Perhaps, this is the desired outcome for both sides, a source of nourishment from the propaganda departments of both countries. Nonetheless, it was an essential event to commence further negotiations of importance to global peace and stability. One thing remains certain – the US is failing to destabilise the alliance of China and Russia, which poses a threat to its economic dominance.