President Joe Biden is gearing up to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Switzerland. The relations between the U.S and Russia have been strained since time immemorial and are yet to cool down. Even with all their differences, the two leaders only aim to resume normalcy in the state.
Biden has stated his intentions of building a more stable relationship with Russia; one that would help to focus on more important foreign policy issues, like presenting a stronger front to China.
Ever since Biden has taken office, Russia seems to be scurrying to get his attention. The summit was offered by the U.S as a means of appeasing the state after Russia moved numerous troops on Ukraine’s border in April. However, now that President Biden has agreed to meet, Putin will turn the tables and offer a coalition like no other: stay out of Russia’s political affairs to ensure a peaceful situation in return.
With this proposition in play, Putin aims to return to the earlier years of the Cold War when Russia and the U.S managed to maintain a civil relationship, despite their differences. According to Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat at the embassy of Russia said these objectives fall in line with what the White House may consider a “desirable deliverable.”
Hence, if the summit turns out to be a success, Russia will maintain aggressive relations abroad, including its assassination with chemical weapons, and less conspicuous attempts at election meddling. In addition, it would also mean emphasizing the talk surrounding the areas of strategic stability and arms control.
Russia holding Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, two American former Marines as hostages and threatening America to release them based on a successful summit is the perfect display of using a double-edged sword. However, Putin’s plans may be hindered by the Kremlin’s interests as an investigation of political opposition under Putin’s rule is still underway.
Fyodor Lukyanov, a member of the Russian International Affairs Council claims that the main question is how and “to what extent Biden will accept this new situation.” Russia’s agenda and suggested alternatives will put President Biden in a difficult position at the Summit. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the tycoon known for challenging Putin politically, said Biden must set a clear line with Putin, “clearly and publicly.”
At present, it seems like President Biden is making his own set of efforts to ensure the summit does not attract significant attention or impose danger on both parties. On Monday, he told reporters Putin is a “worthy adversary.” Although the consequences of the summit are yet to be seen, the current situation bodes well for the state.