Moscow does not hide its satisfaction: a Putin-Biden summit, at the initiative of the White House, returns to a recognition of Russian power at its fair value, after weeks of verbal escalation and the noise of boots around Ukraine.
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Since January and the coming to power of the new American president, relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated at high speed. The Russian ambassador was thus recalled after Joe Biden judged that his counterpart was a “killer”.
Russia has also received new sanctions, been scolded for imprisoning the country’s main opponent, Alexeï Navalny, and caught red-handed, according to Washington, of multiple hacks.
Then Moscow deployed an armada of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian border, accusing Kiev of intentions that could justify an invasion.
In this context, Joe Biden’s proposal for a two-party summit in a neutral city is a diplomatic surprise that seems to greatly delight Moscow, Washington having been the first to make a gesture.
If the Kremlin did not immediately accept the proposal, made by Mr. Biden during a telephone interview Tuesday evening with Mr. Putin, the Russian president spoke that same evening with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinsto, whose country hosted the last meeting of this level in 2018, between Mr. Putin and Donald Trump.
– Important success –
Russian diplomacy has in any case quickly made it known that it was awaiting his orders.
“It is the competence of the presidential administration. But of course we will do our part of the work, ”Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
Russian officials also praised the importance of the event.
The vice-president of the Council of the Federation (upper house), Konstantin Kossatchev, considered that such a summit was a “news of world scale” and that Biden showed to want “that this meeting takes place quickly”.
For the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Duma, the United States “took a step from confrontation to dialogue”. “It is good that the leaders of the two largest nuclear powers are ready to cooperate,” said Leonid Sloutsky.
And Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, compared the importance of a Biden-Putin summit to his, in the midst of the Cold War, with Ronald Reagan, which resulted in a nuclear disarmament treaty.
Russian political scientist Fyodor Loukianov therefore notes that in “Russia the prospect of this meeting will be presented as an important success”.
“And that’s the case in a way, while not long ago Biden spoke insultingly to Putin,” he said.
Already, he believes, “the temperature” has fallen, affirming to expect that the military pressure at the Ukrainian borders will drop soon because no one “has an interest in military clashes”.
Where is Navalny?
Conversely, the news of the organization of a summit leaves some in the Russian opposition frustrated, seeing it as a concession to Putin and his quest for recognition.
“A summit? What does the United States still have to talk about with Putin? This is exactly what Putin wants, a one-to-one meeting that legitimizes him, ”the former world chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov got carried away on Twitter.
Supporters of the Russian president were also delighted for exactly the same reasons.
“It was Biden who asked for the telephone conversation yesterday, it was Biden who called and it was Biden who wanted to discuss a summit,” notes more than a bit mocking Vladimir Solovev, one of the propagandists of the authorities and hated figure of the opposition.
Decrypting the White House press release in his online program, he reluctantly declaims the list of subjects not found there and which are usually put forward by the United States.
“Where are the human rights? Not a word about gays in Chechnya! Not a word on LGBT +! And especially not a word on Navalny, where is Navalny? Quite a call between Biden and Putin, and not a word ”on the opponent, he exclaims.