By Smita Jain
GENEVA/NEW DELHI: Ahead of his much-heralded summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden has described the long-standing Russian leader as “a worthy adversary” and underlined that he will make it clear that the U.S. will respond to actions that conflict with its national interests.
The meeting between Biden and Putin is scheduled for 1 pm in Geneva on June 16. White House officials said that the meeting could last four to five hours, but adopted a realistic tone saying they don’t expect any concrete policy announcements to come from it.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a cluster of issues, including arms control, withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, treatment of dissidents by Russia and cooperation in stabilising geopolitical hotspots such as Syria.
“This is probably one of the few big-ticket summits between world leaders which is totally devoid of expectations. Nobody is expecting any breakthrough,” said Manish Chand, a long-time watcher of US-Russia relations and Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network. “Both Russia and the US desire predictability and stability in bilateral relations and it will be the effort of the two leaders to work out a modus vivendi of co-existing despite serious differences,” he said.
If the summit results in a broader understanding between the two leaders to keep talking, it could pave the way for a reset in the US-Russia relations, said Mr Chand, the founder-president of Centre for Global India Insights (CGII), an Indian think tank focused on geopolitics and global affairs.
The two sides will be trying to achieve a realistic deliverable: restoring diplomatic apparatus by returning ambassadors to each other’s country. Currently, both the US Ambassador to Russia and Russian Ambassador to US have been recalled to their respective capitals as part of escalation in hostilities that followed Russia’s military build-up in eastern Ukraine and Crimea in April this year.
India is closely tracking the Biden-Putin summit as any improvement in US-Russia relations will impact India positively. The US-Russia entente will help advance India’s key strategic interests with the two major powers in a harmonious manner, by preventing these relations from becoming zero sum games.
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