Opinion Understanding Russia and ourselves before the summit
What to Expect from the Biden-Putin Summit
The Russian and American presidents will meet in Switzerland on June 16The summit in Geneva, Switzerland is to take place after relations between the U.S. and Russia recently hit “rock bottom”, says Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served on the White House National Security Council under President Barack Obama. In the past year, the U.S. has issued sweeping sanctions on Russian officials over a long list of charges: election interference; persecuting activists and journalists in Russia, including the now-jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny; engaging in malicious cyber activities; bullying Ukraine and other actions.
The biggest challenges in the U.S.-Russia relationship are the absence of a clear vision for what Washington wants that relationship to be, an understanding of the art of the possible and, at the same time, a failing to understand what contemporary Russia is in reality, not hyperbole. These are important considerations as the forthcoming between President Joseph Biden and President Vladimir Putin steadily approaches.
There has yet to be, and perhaps never will be, an articulation of a toward Russia again. Then, while far from simple, containment and political warfare were the methods of the day. Since the end of the Cold War, the fixation has seemed to be so much on style and not on substance, all without a coherent and consistent strategy underpinning the effort. Strategy is at its core a balancing of competing priorities with limited resources and an articulation of ends, ways and means. On nearly every account, Washington today is found wanting.
Biden to get warm welcome from relieved but wary allies
LONDON (AP) — When U.S. President Joe Biden flies to Europe this week, he will find his hosts welcoming but wary. His predecessor Donald Trump may be gone, but he leaves a long shadow. Biden’s first foreign trip as president starts Wednesday and includes a gathering of the Group of Seven wealthy nations by the seaside in southwest England, a NATO summit, a meeting with European Union chiefs, and then a tete-a-tete in Geneva with his Russian counterpart and adversary, Vladimir Putin.For most of America’s allies, Biden is a relief.
What does Washington want the relationship with Moscow to be, or what does it need it to be? Is it a relationship at all or merely an understanding? For that matter, what can the relationship be given Moscow's interests and active and ? Here, much of the public dialogue today has focused on behaviors Washington wants Moscow to refrain from doing, which is of course an absolutely necessary starting point.
From Moscow's perspective, there has been, and is, little need to cooperate with Washington, especially as by and large Washington has not appreciated the irregular conflict in which it presently finds itself, has had few incentives valuable enough to entice Moscow to change its behavior and has limited means to dissuade the Kremlin from its present course of action. If a strategy is working - the destabilization of the West and Western alliances via irregular means for international benefit and domestic gain - why change it at all if there is no tangible incentive or benefit to doing so?
Biden, Putin set to meet in 18th-century Swiss villa for summit
Biden, Putin set to meet in 18th-century Swiss villa for summitGENEVA (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold their June 16 summit in an 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva, a soothing setting for what promises to be heated talks.
Here, the question of tools, incentives and punishments becomes central. Today, the only tools Washington seems to find at hand are strongly worded demarches and an over reliance on as a default response to any transgression. To be sure, sanctions are a useful tool, especially to signal displeasure at a particular behavior, but they are not an end in and of themselves - and their utility is decreasing with each phase.
Here, the administration should be given due credit for taking preliminary and strong on reigning in the kleptocrats of the world and making dirty money move significantly harder. Yet, there has been no off-ramp for those sanctions, no incentives for cooperation and no real reason for Moscow to do anything but continue its behavior.
It is here that the forthcoming summit is perhaps the best first step, if not the least bad option. While there has been much ink spilled over at all, the reality is that withholding a summit is not much of a punishment and holding a summit isn't much of an incentive either - it's simply a fact of doing business.
Allies hope to bond, look beyond virus at G-7 summit in UK
LONDON (AP) — There will be roundtable meetings, one-on-one chats and a group photo against a picturesque backdrop. When leaders of some of the world’s richest nations meet Friday at the English seaside for a three-day Group of Seven summit, much of the choreography will be familiar. But the world has changed dramatically. Since the G-7 last met two years ago, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 3.7 million people and decimated economies with lockdowns and layoffs. A planned G-7 meeting in the United States last year was postponed, then canceled.So when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes U.S.
Of course, talking and engagement does not mean passive acceptance or toleration of bad behavior. None of this is to excuse or pardon Moscow's actions in and , its , its , or its persecution of political opponents like . Certainly not. But engagement is a starting point and an opportunity to communicate one's message clearly, provided there is an understanding of what Washington wants and does not want in equal measures.
Talking with a strategic competitor is neither a demonstration of strength or weakness. It is an opportunity to clearly state Washington's position without interference, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation - face-to-face with Putin. Going into this summit, however, Washington must have a clear set of goals and objectives, the aforementioned yet missing strategy that also understands and appreciates Moscow as it is, not as we wish it or think it to be.
This goes to the fact that Washington (broadly speaking) fundamentally fails to understand Putin and Russia's political inner workings. It is neither governed purely by Putin's KGB-inspired passions and whims, nor is it a victim of its historical place, its culture, or some other intangible quirk of the Russian spirit. Putin operates, as eloquently notes, a personalist autocracy - but one that is nonetheless just as hamstrung by the same problems as autocrats the world over. Politics in Moscow is all about the complex balancing of competing political and financial interests.
If anything of substance is to come out of the forthcoming summit, the White House needs to understand what it wants the relationship to be and what that relationship can be, what tools it has at its disposal (and just as important, the limitations of its power). But it also needs an understanding of who is sitting across the table from Biden and the system in which Putin himself lives and operates. Anything less than that is merely a photo opportunity.
Joshua Huminski is director of the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuachuminski
As summit ends, G-7 urged to deliver on vaccines, climate .
FALMOUTH, England (AP) — The Group of Seven leaders aim to end their first summit in two years with a punchy set of promises Sunday, including vaccinating the world against coronavirus, making huge corporations pay their fair share of taxes and tackling climate change with a blend of technology and money. They want to show that international cooperation is back after the upheavals caused both by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former U.S. President Donald Trump.