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President Biden’s recent offer to meet with President Putin in mid-June for talks is still among the top news stories in the international news feed. Analysts and journalists are wondering where in Europe this meeting will take place. However, the location of the summit is obviously not the main thing in the upcoming event. The agenda of these negotiations should be fundamental, especially in view of Washington’s harsh rhetoric against Moscow and the ongoing series of new sanctions, writes Alex Ivanov, Moscow correspondent.
On the one hand, as Secretary Blinken said in a recent interview with BBC News: “Washington wants a stable relationship with Moscow.”
But at the same time, the American side promises to respond to Russia’s “irresponsible and destabilising behaviour”.
Blinken also said that at a recent G7 meeting in the UK, the US focused on Russia’s interference in its elections and hacking attacks through software firm SolarWinds, which are attributed to the Russian side. In addition, the situation around the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently in prison and declared a “prisoner of conscience”in the West, was discussed.
Earlier, the G7 foreign ministers called for stable and predictable relations with Moscow. Before that, US President Joe Biden was warned against fighting with Russia.
Blinken stated Biden’s desire to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin the stabilization of relations between Moscow and Washington. He added that the United States does not seek to aggravate relations with Russia, but will respond to those steps that it considers unfriendly. According to the head of the State Department, “a direct conversation between the leaders will benefit both countries”.
The Russian-American summit is expected to take place in mid-June in Europe — although there is no official confirmation yet, and the Kremlin is in no hurry to respond to Washington’s proposal. The location hasn’t been selected yet. The capitals of Finland, Austria, and even the Czech Republic are named (despite the growing scandal over Russia’s accusations of involvement in the explosion at an ammunition depot in the Czech town of Vrbetice). The Kremlin, for its part, considers all these conversations “premature”. So far, only preliminary dates are mentioned -June 15-16.
It is known that by this time, Biden will be in Europe for several days as part of a grand tour. He is going to attend the G7 summit in British Cornwall (June 11-13) and the NATO summit in Brussels (June 14). And in the status of the “leader of the Western world”, Biden intend to go to a meeting with Putin.
What will Biden discuss in Europe on the eve of the meeting with Putin? The same thing that was just discussed in London at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting: countering Russia and China. This will also be discussed at the NATO summit — ” Russia’s aggressive actions and international changes in the security sphere associated with the strengthening of China.”
Whatever analysts and journalists may think, the meeting of the leaders of Russia and the United States, if it takes place, is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough in relations. The gap between Moscow and Washington is too wide. As it is known, the Russian ambassador to America Anatoly Antonov was recalled to Russia more than a month ago (since March 17) “for consultations”.
Moscow makes it clear that Antonov is not expected to return to Washington in the near future. Russia expects the United States to “take at least some steps to normalize relations.” It is believed that the ambassador was invited to Russia for consultations after Biden reacted positively to a question that Putin was a “killer”.
The Foreign Ministry said that Antonov was invited to search for “ways to improve” relations between Russia and the United States. The official representative of the Ministry Maria Zakharova said at the time that Moscow wanted to prevent the “irreversible degradation ” of bilateral relations.
After arriving in Moscow, Ambassador Antonov said that the diplomats have a lot of work to do to analyze the current state of Russian-American relations. Russia is determined not to let them “fall into the abyss,” Antonov added.
Whatever politicians and journalists might expect from Biden’s proposed meeting, Washington’s list of grievances is too long to even briefly touch on all the topics during the talks. At the same time, one must not forget that the Kremlin categorically disagrees with the various accusations and statements of the White House.
Moreover, Moscow believes that America is deliberately “teasing” Russia in order to prevent the strengthening of its foreign policy and economic positions in Europe and the world. The best example for this is Washington’s aggressive attacks on the Nord Stream 2 energy project, attempts to denigrate Moscow’s actions in Syria by all means. An additional factor is the already traditional accusations against Russia of interfering in the internal political processes in the United States, first of all presidential elections.
If we add to this the diametrically opposite approaches of Russia and America to the situation in Ukraine and the notorious issue of Crimea, then the chances of achieving any compromise or even rapprochement of the positions of both sides remain slim.
Biden is likely to repeat his famous “mantra” that Russia will “pay a high price” for attacking US interests. The Russian side will once again make statements about the groundlessness of the American accusations against Moscow.
In any case, if the meeting takes place, it will become a certain landmark moment, which should confirm or refute Washington’s real readiness to build a “normal dialogue” with Moscow. Although, as many in Russia believe, such a readiness of the American side would be a big surprise if, moreover, the words of the Americans are confirmed by the case.