Although the two-hour talks between the presidents of the United States and Russia, which took place in the mode of videoconference over a “specially protected communication channel”, were closed, the topic was known in a-dvance. The main thing was unclear whether the heads of the two countries would be able to agree at least on something – their positions looked so opposite. In America, the “re-mote summit” was called “pre-war”, “the most important after the end of the cold war” and noted that “the stakes are higher than ever.” However, we admit that these are all journalistic clichés.
Let’s use the chess associations, especially since the final match for the chess crown is taking place these days. Let us also recall Zbigniew Brzezinski, who compared geopolitics to a game of chess. It so happened that the date of the “remote meeting” of Putin and Biden coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – the largest defeat of the United States, which became the reason for America to enter World War II. Early Tuesday morning (the conversation with Putin began at 10.07 East Coast time) the Biden couple laid a wreath at the World War II memorial in memory of the mourning date for this country.
Before the game starts
In the United States, the question was posed as follows: will it be possible to prevent the war through diplomatic means? The threat is taken very seriously. The media publish satellite images showing the concentration of Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders (according to American generals, there are already about 100,000 of them, the number could be increased to 175), maps of a possible offensive have been printed. CNN, citing sources in the administration, announced plans to evacuate American citizens in the event of a Russian invasion. In Moscow, on the contrary, preparations for war are denied and they say that it is Ukraine “controlled from the outside by Western partners,” Americ-an weapons on its territory and its NATO membership will become a mortal security threat for Russia.
Joseph Biden tried to dissuade Vladimir Putin from invading the territory of Ukraine, threatening to introduce unprecedented sanctions: economic (including energy, related to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline), personal – against Putin’s closest circle, billionaire officials, oligarchs, and Russian public debt. Finally, the toughest (as th-ey say here, “nuclear”) opti-on of sanctions was considered, which, however, has long been talked about: disconnecting Russia from the international financial settlement system SWIFT. And as an exotic innovation – a ban on the exchange of the Russian ruble.
As noted by the American media, the sanctions of Obama, Trump and Biden have not yet changed anything in the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The current sanctions are something that Washington did not dare to impose in 2014, the press writes, citing anonymous sources in the administration. The White House prefers not to comment officially, they say that it was more important to communicate the essence to the Russian side. In addition to sanctions against Russia, the United States is going to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine. In his speeches on the eve of the conversation, Putin drew “red lines” for Washington and the “collective West”, which must not be crossed: Ukraine’s accession to NATO and further expansion of NATO eastward, to the borders of the Russian Federation, the emergence of NATO military bases and complexes on Ukrainian territory. The Kremlin wants legal guarantees. Biden reacted immediately: we are not going to reckon with someone’s “red lines”. The President of Russia, literally hours before the conversation, called this summit a “protocol event”, which in translation from diplomatic – “formal”.
On the eve of his virtual summit with Putin, the 46th US President spoke to allied leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor (literally on the eve of her departure from office) Angela Merkel, Italian Prime M-inister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The leaders discussed their shared concerns about the buildup of Russian military power on Ukraine’s borders and the increasingly harsh rhetoric of Russia,” the White House said in a statement. They called on Russia to e-ase tensions and agreed that diplomacy was the only way forward. Biden had the same conversation with the Europeans immediately following the results of the online summit with Putin. The President of the United States, therefore, spoke at this meeting as the leader of the united West. On Thursday or Friday, Biden will speak with Ukrainian President Zelensky,
Even as European leaders gave assurances of solidarity with the United States, American media reported, many European officials are worried that Putin may respond to pressure by cutting gas supplies to Europe. In winter, this is a serious threat.
The main “trick” (to use the vocabulary of the President of the Russian Federation) in Washington is that the Americans do not know what the purpose of the new escalation of tensions along the Ukrainian borders is. Rather, they do not know what the ultimate goal is Putin. Some experts write that, perhaps, he himself does not yet know this.
But Putin’s “gambit” – forcing Biden to negotiate by pulling troops to the Ukrainian border again worked effectively, as on the eve of their first face-to-face, June summit in Geneva. According to The New York Times, the “Putin gambit” may be a cold calculation of coercion – a way to force President Biden to recognize Russia’s sphere of interests in Eastern Europe. For Putin and many other Russians, the nearly eight-year conflict with Ukraine is not just a geopolitical issue; it is about a wounded national psyche, about a historical injustice that needs to be corrected. Former Kremlin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky describes the Kremlin’s view of Ukraine as “trauma wrapped in trauma” – the collapse of the Soviet Union combined with the division of a nation that Russians see as an extension of their own. The main Kremlin thesis is: Ukrainians are “one people” with the Russians, living in “a failed state controlled by Western forces, determined to divide and conquer the post-Soviet world.” Ukrainians, who ousted a Russian-friendly president in 2014 and increasingly advocate linking their country to Western institutions, largely disagree. But Putin’s conviction, the American newspaper notes, resonates with many Russians, who consider themselves closely connected with Ukraine for generations of linguistic, cultural, economic, political and family ties. Those who ousted a Russian-friendly president in 2014 and increasingly advocate linking their country to Western institutions largely disagree. But Putin’s conviction, the American newspaper notes, resonates with many Russians, who consider themselves closely connected with Ukraine for generations of linguistic, cultural, economic, political and family ties. Those who ousted a Russian-friendly president in 2014 and increasingly advocate linking their country to Western institutions largely disagree. But Putin’s conviction, the American newspaper notes, resonates with many Russians, who consider themselves closely connected with Ukraine for generations of linguistic, cultural, economic, political and family ties.
Withdrawal of troops in exchange for easing sanctions and informal recognition of Russia’s spheres of influence (“new Yalta”) – this could be Moscow’s strategic plan.
The American media took a video image of this summit from Russian state TV, the White House did not provide such an opportunity to film from the operational room (also called the “situational room”), where Biden was located, to the local TV channels. At the beginning of the meeting, the presidents were very kind. Biden regretted not being able to see Putin at the recent G20 summit and said he hoped to see him soon. The White House only released one photo showing Biden talking in front of several cabinet me-mbers. But national security adviser Jake Sullivan promptly held a press conference at the White House following the summit.
When asked what to call negotiations – “productive”, “good”, Sullivan replied: “Useful.” More often than not, he uttered the word “consequences.” About what and how Biden said to Putin: directly and unequivocally. The Russian president was also straightforward and outspoken, the American official said.
The negotiations became a lively dialogue, not an exchange of speeches. Biden, said adviser Sullivan, spoke in favor of continuing the dialogue with Russia.
The president is going to talk about the results at his meeting with the leaders of the chambers of the Congress. And although the United States does not consider military intervention in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, as Sullivan noted, if the eastern European countries – the Baltic states, Romania and Poland – ask the United States to expand its military presence, “they will be heard.” America will support Ukraine and give an answer in any unforeseen situation.
He also stated that the United States is ready to discuss European security issues with Russia, but this has been the case in the past as well. It is important to define the format of such negotiations. Which can be translated like this: we heard your demands and concerns. But, Sullivan stressed, all this will be possible only with de-escalation, that is, with the withdrawal of troops.
Biden is reproached for being “weak” with Putin:
initiated the lifting of new sanctions on Nord Stream, “lost face” during a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, and so on. He’s doing what he promised, Sullivan recalled. He introduced sanctions after the “Navalny case” (poisoning and landing), imposed sanctions after the Sol-arWinds incident (hacker attack), and will impose sa-nctions now if there is an i-nvasion. As a positive mo-ment, the official noted the coincidence of the sides’ positions on Iran and its nu-clear program. “There is ag-reement, despite all the ex-isting contradictions on oth-er issues,” – stated Sullivan.
Victoria Nuland, deputy secretary of state for political affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday: “Much flows directly from Putin’s 2014 scenario.” Democratic and Republican senators have called on the administration to pass tough economic sanctions. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Democrat Senator Robert Menendez said he believed the Biden administration had prepared a “credible” package of sanctions. Republican Senator Roger Vicker told CNN that in the event of an invasion, Supreme Commander Biden should consider any scenarios for a US response, including a military one. I would like to note that this is a private opinion that does not express the popular point of view that “tough sanctions” are enough. Better yet, find a diplomatic compromise.
Experts believe that the real results of the negotiations will become visible within two weeks or a month. If Russia ceases to increase the accumulation of military forces on the border or begins to withdraw, then we have agreed upon. Then the question arises: what is the price of the agreements?