16 June 2021 — Moon of Alabama
The results of the Putin-Biden summit today in Geneva seem to be thin. The meetings were expected to last for 4 to 5 hours but ended after little more than 2 hours.
During his press conference President Vladimir Putin said that the talks were constructive. He lauded Biden as very experienced politician and said that they had two hours of face time.
There were a few results:
- The ambassadors of both sides, who had been recalled from Washington and Moscow, will return to their posts.
- There will be new expert rounds about cybersecurity.
- There may be talks about an exchange of prisoners.
- There will be new rounds about security, which means strategic nuclear weapons.
A joint statement by both sides about Strategic Stability has been posted in Russian on the Kremlin site (machine translation):
Today we reaffirm our adherence to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and should never be unleashed.
To achieve these goals, Russia and the United States will soon launch a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability, which will be substantive and energetic. Through this dialogue, we aim to lay the foundation for future arms control and risk mitigation measures.
That is a very important result and the upcoming talks will be interesting. The U.S. will have to end its Missile Defense Program if it wants limits on any of the new strategic weapon types Russia has introduced.
But the summit did not bring any further breakthroughs or new deals.
Putin answered at length several reporter questions about the Ukraine, human rights and the Arctic. He responded to critical questions by using legitimate whataboutism to reflect the issue onto the U.S. side.
On an aggressive question about Navalny by a U.S. journalist Putin explained that U.S. law designates Russia as an “enemy” and that the U.S. finances groups in Russia like Navalny’s. He is a foreign agent. On top of that Navalny’s organization has called for illegal demonstrations and riots. That made his organization an extremist one that now must be dissolved. Putin mentions that the participants of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol storming are now processed as criminals even as they only had political demands, were unarmed and mostly not violent.
On another question about alleged Russian political unpredictability Putin responded by listing all the arms control agreements the U.S. has left as well as the U.S. led coup in Ukraine which was executed even after then President Yanukovych had agreed to all opposition demands including new elections.
The press conference of the U.S. side has as of now not begun.
Altogether there was much less drama but also fewer results than the many previews had presumed.