Power Diplomacy: 5 Takeaways from Biden-Putin Meeting

With the fate of Russia-US relations hanging in the balance due to the rapidly growing tensions, the presidents of both nations came face-to-face in a videoconference recently.

The event before the US-led Democracy Summit carried much weight, as the meeting was supposed to defuse tensions between two erstwhile cold war foes.

However, as the events unfolded, the situation was far from being simple, with both the presidents issuing warnings to each other on various matters. The primary takeaways from Russia and US talks are:

Biden and Putin virtual meeting was driven by Ukraine situation as any invasion by Russia can urge the US to take comprehensive action.
Biden and Putin virtual meeting was driven by Ukraine situation as any invasion by Russia can urge the US to take comprehensive action.

Peace in the World is Nowhere in Sight

Peace talks between the US and Russia were the primary motive of the video conference

However, both countries failed to achieve a consensus, which resulted in a stalemate. While Russia avowed that it is not planning to invade Ukraine and is expanding the military presence to maintain its defensive posture, the US is unwilling to believe it, as intelligence sources suggest otherwise. 

Meanwhile, the US has already indicated that any invasion attempt would be opposed with full force, which brings both the countries back to square one, where they were before the video conference.

 

Uncertainty is at an All-Time High

After the video call, the uncertainty remains as high as it was before the event. The talks about a possible NATO expansion were loud before the call, and despite Russia’s attempt to warn the US about the possible expansion of the military alliance, the Biden administration depicted that it could not guarantee not expanding NATO.

Thus, if the US tries to expand the alliance, it could create deterrence for Russia not to attack Ukraine, but Russia will also take it as an offensive gesture, which would likely increase its military presence against the western world.

Nord 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany now faces little US sanctions as Germany is an ally of the US, which stops the US to go violent.
Nord 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany now faces little US sanctions as Germany is an ally of the US, which stops the US to go violent.

Situation Overseas will Impact US Internal Politics

The Nord 2 natural gas pipeline has been a hot-button issue between the US and Russia’s bilateral relations.

The White House opposes the pipeline because it would give the Russian economy a much-needed boost, thereby giving it additional political leverage in Europe. However, its suspension will deteriorate bilateral relations between the US and Germany.

Thus, to maintain its political clout in  Europe, the US has been trying to compromise on the pipeline, which led the Biden administration to lift the sanctions against the project.

However, almost all Republicans and some Democrats are not happy with the measure, which increases the probability of congressional action against the pipeline.

Senate Republicans have already indicated that they could bring the resolution to reimpose sanctions on the pipeline, not to mention that they could easily avoid the filibuster as Democrats are also against lifting those sanctions.

Alliances Have Become Important

Immediately after concluding its meeting with the Russian leader, Biden immediately called France, the UK, Italy, and Germany. He knows the importance of maintaining the alliance amid the increasingly assertive posture of Russia.

The relations between France and the US recently took a hit when the AUKUS alliance between the US, the UK, and Australia compromised France’s financial interest.

Thus, for the Biden administration, keeping the US allies closer is more important than ever.

Biden-Putin meeting has indicated that both leaders have no personal grudges against each other, unlike the popular perception.
Biden-Putin meeting has indicated that both leaders have no personal grudges against each other, unlike the popular perception.

It’s not Biden-Putin Personal Tussle, but Business as Usual

Unlike the popular perception that Biden and Putin hold personal grudges against one another, the meeting depicted otherwise.

While issuing warnings based on the individual national interest is a common approach in diplomacy, both presidents greeted each other and occasionally exchanged jokes. Biden told Putin stories regarding the shared sacrifices of the erstwhile USSR and the USA in World War II.

While Trump was considered a close ally of Russia, Biden seems to have equally closer relations in the Kremlin, which suggests that the bilateral talks will continue even if the situation deteriorates further.

Final Thoughts

While the relationship between Russia and the US healed little as a result of the video call, the Ukraine invasion is the only thing that would define the future of these relations.

Since the US-installed an anti-Russian government and Russia conspired a coup in Ukraine in 2014, both countries came face-to-face at various instances.

However, unlike 2014, this time, the US is committed enough to use military power against Russia in case of a possible invasion.

If this happens, it will open a new Pandora’s box, considering that Russia’s primary ally, China, sits right next to it on the world map.

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