As I predicted on Russian television on Channel One’s key political program “The Big Game,” for Moscow the recent summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is not only “seminal”, but also meaningful. Although one can hardly call the return of ambassadors to Washington and Moscow and the willingness to discuss the issues of strategic stability a great success, the very fact that these leaders were facing each other and outlining the red lines for the opposite side can already be justifiably construed as a success.
In general, the red lines have come down to the following. On the Russian side: inadmissibility of Ukraine’s membership in NATO; non-deployment of short- and medium-range missiles in Europe, especially in the former Soviet republics; the West’s rejection of attempts to overthrow Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus; inadmissibility on the part of the U.S. and Europe of attempts to organize a “color revolution” in Russia; and refraining from financial and political support of the Russian antisystem opposition. On the U.S. side: Russia’s non-interference in the U.S. elections; Russia’s non-use of cyberattacks on important U.S. infrastructure facilities; Ukraine’s territorial integrity; and protection of human rights in Russia and Belarus.
The personal meeting of the presidents contributed to the success in their interpersonal relations. It somewhat ironed out the tension that arose between Putin and Biden after Biden’s affirmative answer to George Stephanopoulos’s question of whether Putin was a “killer” on ABC.
This is evidenced by two events. Right after the meeting in Geneva, Biden reacted abruptly toward a CNN reporter, who, with her question, tried to provoke him to speak negatively against Putin. The answer was not long in coming. Returning from Geneva, Putin at the first opportunity spoke very highly about Biden, not only appreciating his professional qualities as an experienced expert in international relations and a negotiator, but also his good physique.