World What Joe Biden Can Offer Vladimir Putin

08:26  16 june  2021
08:26  16 june  2021 Source:   theatlantic.com

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When Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden meet in Geneva on Wednesday for their eagerly awaited summit, they will discuss a wide range of topics, including coronavirus, the war in Donbass, and the fight against cybercrime. READ MORE: Surprising US hasn’t blamed Russia for starting BLM movement that shook nation, Putin jokes, while backing African-American rights. According to Ushakov, the Russian delegation will also include Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to Washington, as well as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, among

Biden had called Putin a killer, which triggered outrage in Moscow. Suddenly, however, things changed and plans were made for a private meeting in a neutral space, in Switzerland. The US seeks to normalize relations with Russia — mainly because of China, according to Raimund Krämer, who Biden doesn't like Putin , nor does he think Russia is of incredible strategic value, but the reality of US-China relations means that we would rather not have big problems with the Russians, Bremmer said. Ralf Fücks, director of the Berlin-based Center for Liberal Modernity think tank, takes a similar view

I grew up in a hidden city. Not a forgotten city, or a faraway city—a hidden city. My hometown, Nizhny Novgorod, lies east of Moscow along the Volga River. It was a center of international trade before the Russian Revolution but was bombed by the Nazis during World War II; to preserve crucial industries housed there, the Soviet authorities effectively closed it off from the world after the war. It didn’t exist on many Soviet maps, and foreigners were not allowed to visit. Cruise ships passed by only at night so tourists would not know about the ancient city on the banks.

a view of a house © Leni Kovaleva / Getty Images

Despite the heavy restrictions, many well-known intellectuals worked in Nizhny Novgorod, at anonymous-looking Soviet facilities known as “mailboxes.” The nuclear physicist and future Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov was among them. Only at the local foreign-language institute did I first meet a foreigner, an American lady who taught English. Mary Sebastian—or Mary Petrovna Alferova, according to her Soviet passport—came to Nizhny Novgorod in the 1930s as a teenager with her father, an engineer helping to build an automobile plant. She fell in love, got married, and decided to stay.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back after his US counterpart Joe Biden said in an interview that he considered him to be a "killer". But Vladimir Putin himself appeared to take the insult in his stride. After all, it plays to his main idea: that the West is Russophobic, a hostile force. Mr Putin said Joe Biden was simply seeing his own traits in the Russian leader and argued that the US was a murderous state - with a list of shameful chapters in its history from slavery to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Joe Biden said last month that he would be meeting face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin at some point soon. That comes at the tail end of Biden 's already scheduled trip to the United Kingdom for the G7 summit and Brussels for a meeting of Nato leaders, giving the president plenty of time to hear from US allies before sitting down with Putin . White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in a statement announcing the meeting, said the summit would cover a "full range of pressing issues" as the US seeks to "restore predictability and stability" to its Russian relations.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Nizhny Novgorod’s first democratic governor was a charismatic scientist, Boris Nemtsov. He reopened our city, then called Gorky, symbolically restoring its original name. In those euphoric early years, locals welcomed liberal reforms, as well as foreign delegations and tourists. Today, Nizhny Novgorod has great street art, coffee shops and bars with English names, and an international airport. It welcomed thousands of American and European soccer fans during the 2018 World Cup.

This year marks 800 years since Nizhny Novgorod’s founding, and as if to mark the occasion, local Communists broke ground on a new monument to Joseph Stalin. The gesture is symbolic, but shocking: They are not simply honoring a dictator; they are honoring the dictator whose regime put Nizhny Novgorod into enforced solitude. And yet, what was once shocking in Russia has become normal—Nemtsov, the former governor, was assassinated outside the Kremlin in 2015 after becoming a critic of Vladimir Putin.

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(CNN) Joe Biden 's showdown with Russia's Vladimir Putin on Wednesday is one of the most critical summits of recent times, and not just because relations between the two nations -- which together own 90% of the world's nuclear weapons -- have plummeted to post-Cold War lows. But the invitation came at a time when Russian troops were massed on Ukraine's border, with many observers fearing a full-scale invasion and with the imprisoned Navalny apparently close to death after being denied medical treatment. The President's carrot offered Putin a platform he craves alongside the US

Putin 's Russia will pose a series of challenges for Joe Biden , but he would do well to open up more communication where he can, Matthew Rojansky and Michael Kimmage write.

In the more than two decades since Putin rose to power, Kremlinologists, journalists, and historians have desperately tried to decode the Russian leader’s belief system. Many ultimately have defined it as a continual contest, with Putin having to balance two major factions within Russia: the siloviki, or “men of power,” an autocratic group backed by the security agencies, and the technocrats, a group of competent and (by Russian standards) liberal managers who largely have seemed to hold sway on questions of economics.

[Read: Russia’s twin nostalgias]

The common misconception about Russia is that Putin controls all, sees all, knows all. He doesn’t. His has been a regime reliant on the buy-in of interest groups, oligarchs, and powerful clans within law-enforcement agencies. Behind the scenes, decision makers from among the siloviki and the technocrats have battled it out as analysts have sought to guess who has been on top and how deeply tensions have run. Putin is no liberal, but he himself has described his government as divided between Westernizers” and “people of the soil.”

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Yet somehow, Joe Biden provocatively agreeing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a "killer" has become the catalyst for what could be the most consequential meeting of his presidency so far. "So you know Vladimir Putin , do you think he's a killer?" ABC America's George Stephanopoulos It turns out that the free Putin character assessment he offered would become the price of entry to this week's summit meeting on the shores of Lake Geneva. At times like these, Russian-American relations are so complicated they're almost predictable. Biden provokes Putin . Kremlin takes umbrage.

Thanks to President Joe Biden , there is a new spirit between the US, Nato and the EU. Politics is to a great extent based on confidence and trust between political leaders. Has Biden 's visit improved security in Europe? President Biden is a reliable partner and friend of the Europeans and he is aware of the importance of the European Union. This is the difference from his predecessor. media captionThree things to watch as Joe Biden faces Vladimir Putin .

Not any longer. The people of the soil have won. They monopolize nearly every aspect of Putin’s government and are enforcing their will—his will—on Russian society in a way that was previously unimaginable.

The clearest example of this trend has been the force with which the chief Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, and his movement have been circumscribed. Navalny is in jail until 2024, though many predict that this sentence (like Putin’s rule) will almost certainly be lengthened. His supporters have been legally declared “extremist”—the first time such a designation has been used against a political group in the country since the fall of the Soviet Union—ensuring that any pro-Navalny partisan anywhere in Russia faces up to eight years in prison if they continue any form of activism.

This internal political shift has been rapid and pronounced, and has implications beyond Russia. More than anything, it illustrates how little Putin has to offer Joe Biden, and how unlikely it appears that Russia and the United States will achieve any form of long-term accommodation after the years of bizarre bonhomie during Donald Trump’s presidency. Putin no longer believes that he must placate a Westernizing band in his government; the siloviki now have unfettered rule.

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At the same time, Biden retains little leverage. If Putin has no internal pro-Western lobby, then any support from the American president is unlikely to result in meaningful change, only punishment for those ostensibly getting the help.

As a result, Russian civil society is paralyzed, Mikhail Zygar, the author of All the Kremlin’s Men, a book about Putin and his government, told me. Independent political voices either shut up or risk being labeled “foreign agents” or “undesirable organizations.” Even officials and politicians who were openly liberal have now changed tack. People behave, Zygar said, “as if they were hostages.” Yet the West, by extension, cannot free them. “They can only provide food and water for those who choose to stay and help the other hostages.”

It is a sentiment echoed on both sides of the divide.

Biden “should focus on solving security and nuclear issues, preventing violence, discussing the battlefield as if there were no jailed dissidents in Russia,” Alexander Cherkasov, a senior member of Memorial, a human rights group, told me. An American president negotiating to free dissidents would only align their movement with a country officially labeled unfriendly, an enemy of Moscow’s.

Among the victors, there is triumphalism. “We will succeed because we Stalinists, the people of the soil, swallow up the liberals and kick out the Westerners, or turn them ideologically,” Yuriy Krupnov, a conservative politician, told me.

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In some respects, that Putin took this long to end his balancing act is surprising: From afar, his power appears assured. In 2019, he told the Financial Times that liberalism had “outlived its purpose.” Krupnov even admitted to me that he thought Putin would have moved sooner to empower conservative forces. “I hate liberalism,” he said, “but the trouble is that most of Russia’s elite are ‘Westerners.’”

Those elites have persistently struggled to win, and maintain, power in Russia. Each time they try, tragedy befalls them: Tsar Nicholas I executed the Decemberists, a 19th-century group calling for constitutional monarchy; Stalin filled the Gulag prison camps with dissidents and reformers. Anti-autocratic revolutions in 1917 and 1990 both eventually resulted in illiberal leaders coming to power.

[Read: Putin’s crackdown on dissent is working]

Today, the Kremlin is pushing intellectuals to make a choice—pledge fealty or lose their career. Some are opting for the former; Nikita Mikhalkov, an Oscar-winning director, has called for Russians who support Western sanctions to be deprived of their citizenship.

As with much of Russian politics, episodes such as these echo the past. The historian Mikhail Milchik recounted to me how he and Jacob Gordin, the editor in chief of Russia’s oldest literary magazine, Zvezda, attended the show trial of their close friend Joseph Brodsky, the dissident poet and future Nobel prize winner, in 1964. Milchik said that the day was the most traumatic of his youth: Brodsky had been detained by the KGB, interrogated, and accused of “having a worldview damaging of the state.” Brodsky’s father brought his military boots to the trial; Joseph put them on and walked to the Gulag. Decades later, Milchik and Gordin see parallels with modern Russia.

In the years following the fall of the Soviet Union, the historian Daniil Kotsyubinsky had hoped to see Russian democracy flourish. That dream has been extinguished. Now, he told me, he asks only that the West relax sanctions and accept the Russian government for what it is. “The new Cold War only strengthens the legitimacy of authoritarian power,” he said. In his view, the sanctions have empowered Putin, leaving the wealthy and the powerful with no option but to embrace the Russian leader.

That leaves Biden with few options when confronting Putin over his revanchism and military adventurism. Yet Kotsyubinsky illuminated a potential pathway for the American president, one that dovetails with the White House’s own priorities. Biden has spoken repeatedly of how the world has devolved into a contest between two camps—democracies led by the United States and autocracies led by China and Russia—and has argued that Washington must show that democracy can work.

Kotsyubinsky said America could, over time, help Russian liberals without overtly seeking to empower them by strengthening the cause of democracy, and the West, elsewhere. “Every time the West’s own stability was shaking,” he told me, “Russian conservatives grew more powerful.”

Vladimir Putin Says Joe Biden is 'Intelligent, Collected, Does Not Miss a Thing' .
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave high marks for U.S. President Joe Biden after their meeting in Switzerland this week—despite their rocky relationship of the past. © PETER KLAUNZER / POOL / AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden (R) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021. "Biden is a professional, and you need to work very carefully with him so as not to miss something," Putin told reporters Thursday—a day after they met in the neutral site of Geneva, Russian state-owned media TASS reported.

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