Biden plans to put pressure on Putin in Geneva. Does it work?

Putin giving a talk at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 4th

Putin giving a talk at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 4th

Putin, Credit-Olga Maltseva-AFP / Getty Images speaking at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 4th

Vladimir Putin, since taking office in Geneva on June 16, pumped iron at the last minute while Joe Biden was preparing for his first meeting with the Russian President, finishing up with a trademark laugh. doing. A big deal. This is your chance to face the man who leads the United States, Russia’s archenemy. He can smile equally at the camera, including the fate of imprisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny and the cyberattacks he hasn’t made on the United States. I want to discuss it, and I want to firmly insist on Russia’s worldview.

For Biden, there are few interesting opportunities. He will not arrive in Putin until he meets his allies at the G7 Summit and the US leadership wants to win the Western Union. More difficult questions to Biden are asked in a closed room, with a smile in front of the camera. Of course Putin isn’t there. Because Russia’s merger of Crimea led to Russia’s expulsion from the G7 summit, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to recontain him.

When Biden finally sits with Putin, his mind can wander towards the rising power that both Democrats and Republicans consider to be the most important American enemy. It is China, not Russia, that poses the greatest challenge to US power and prosperity. China is a growing technological force. China, not Russia, has truly global influence and is far more important to the future of the US economy.

Russia is still fighting the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia can interfere with Ukraine in the margins, but the threat of completely invading and occupying more than 44 million countries is unreliable. That big move will cost too many Russian lives and too many rubles for the chronically weak and weakening Russian economy. In recent months, Belarus has provided the latest examples of post-Soviet demands for fundamental change and the need to shoot people to keep protests under control. In a recent presidential election in Moldova, a Harvard-educated economist defeated a pro-Kremlin incumbent. Last year, Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan caused a humiliating defeat to Russia’s ally Armenia in a region once dominated by Russia. Beijing is increasingly competing for influence with Moscow among former Soviet Central Asian countries.

Also, Russia has recently become stronger within its own borders. Its economy is covered with rust. Russia hasn’t changed course, despite long-standing warnings that climate change concerns and increased investment in green energy will make greater reliance on hydrocarbon growth and earnings worse and worse. Hmm. When oil prices soared between 2001 and 2008, the economy expanded by 6.6% annually. From 2012 to 2019, oil prices fell in response to the surge in US production, resulting in annual growth of around 1%. The COVID-19 pandemic only made things worse. Still, oil and gas still account for more than 60% of exports and about 40% of state revenues. Russia’s interventionist foreign policy and its nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East, tend to forget that Russia’s economy is smaller than Canada’s and more than half that of California.

That’s not to say Russia cannot bother the United States, especially in cyberspace. While the two governments routinely target each other, ransomware rashes and other hacking attacks from Russian organized crime against US companies are raising concerns. Russian criminal groups are suspected of recent attacks on the world’s largest meat packager and the United States’ largest fuel pipeline. Biden administration officials have revealed that Biden will force Putin to raise the issue. But according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the administration wants “a more stable and more predictable relationship with Russia.” So last month, the US President ordered a waiver of sanctions on companies building a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe. That’s why the White House wants to meet with Putin.

These moves are more than an era of “engagement” with China, according to Biden’s senior Asian adviser Kurt Campbell. Biden has less headaches in Russia and Russia receives more financial relief.

But don’t expect Biden and Putin to pretend to like each other. In March, Biden told a television interviewer that Putin considered him a “murderer.” Putin replied diplomatically, “I know you are, but what am I?” And I remembered his ambassador from Washington. Earlier this month, Putin ransacked the United States in an attack on the Capitol on January 6 to blame hypocritical leaders for criticizing crackdowns on protests in other countries. Biden encounters Putin’s shrug shrug as he bumps into the subject he is trying to raise.

But if Putin sits on the other side of his fifth U.S. president, takes a photo and earns some style points, he offers Biden something in exchange for relieving economic pressure on the government. You may be able to. Perhaps a promise to continue to seek Ukrainian diplomatic solutions, or a cyber announcement that will be valid until the next US-Russia relationship heads south.

Posted on