MOSCOW, Jan.21 (EFE). The Kremlin assumed that the President of the United States, Joe Biden, would maintain a firm policy toward Russia, but hoped that the harsh rhetoric and sanctions would leave room for the pragmatism that allows the two powers. Cooperation on key issues such as strategic stability and arms control.
The Democratic Party’s arrival at the White House didn’t raise hopes in Moscow, as it did four years ago with Donald Trump moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“At the moment, there are no concrete contacts,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today, stressing in recent days that Russia does not expect changes in relations with the United States.
Biden is an old acquaintance of Russia, not just because he was Vice President Barack Obama, but because of himself: As a senator from Delaware, he lived the Cold War from start to finish and knows very well how Moscow behaves and thinks.
Biden and Putin, the stars are not allied
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not get along with Obama, who in 2009 sought unsuccessfully to “resume” relations with Russia, but with Biden, 78, he had no good experience either.
Today, the American president said to him on a visit to Moscow in 2011, as he recounted years later: “Mr. Prime Minister, I look into your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.”
A decade ago, George W. Bush saw Putin’s “soul” and concluded that he was an “honest and trustworthy” man.
“This is one of the coldest personal relationships between an American and Russian leader,” says Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow.
The indicators do not align well with a good personal relationship between the Russian president and Biden, who sees Russia as the country most “threatening the security of the United States” while China considers its main competitor: an aggression by Washington that the United States will try. Distance between each other predicted.
There will be an “anti-Russian” – as well as “anti-China” – and “pro-NATO” consensus that Moscow will have to continue confronting, as Thomas Graham, an expert on Russian and Eurasian affairs and managing director of the consulting firm Kissinger Associates, predicts.
Last November, Putin summed up Russia’s relations with the United States, which are perhaps at their worst since the Cold War: “Damaged relations cannot be damaged. They are already damaged.”
The reasons for this are not decreased. On the part of Russia, this is the “Russophobic” rhetoric of the United States, its attempts to impose its democratic model, NATO’s approach to the Russian borders, destabilizing the post-Soviet space, dismantling the global security architecture, and accusations of interfering or boycotting economic projects such as Nord Stream 2.
For the United States, they are Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, violation of arms control treaties, large-scale cyberattacks, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, its participation in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and persecution. To the opposition and activists or the poisoning of ex-spy Skripal in 2018 and opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2020.
With this view, “there is no doubt that the sanctions will continue,” as the head of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Anatoly Turkonov, predicts.
Russia is waiting for Biden
For now, Biden has two issues on the table that could set the tone for his government’s relationship with Russia: its response to the poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny and the extension or non-extension of the latest nuclear arms reduction agreement between the two powers. , START III, or New Start, which expire in 15 days.
It seems clear that the two major nuclear powers are doomed to understand each other in major world affairs. Likewise, the United States cannot ignore Russia’s role in Syria, its interest in Libya, and the display of its influence in Africa and its weight in the post-Soviet space, where there are latent crises or conflicts.
Putin often says: “Russia and the United States, which bear a special responsibility for global security and stability, despite their differences, can truly contribute to solving many of the problems and challenges facing the world today.”
It remains to be seen whether Biden will carry the glove. In December, Putin called him a “seasoned man,” but also emphasized that everything would depend on how his administration would be: “The court makes the king, as the famous saying goes.” EFE
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