28 July 2021, Wednesday, 12:51
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Grand Style is Back

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Grand Style is Back
Andrei Sannikau

In relation to Russia, the "American Press" may be turned on.

On June 16, Geneva hosted, in my opinion, the most unconventional summit of the United States and Putin. Before Biden, Putin met with George W. Bush, who looked into his eyes and “saw the soul there”, Barack Obama, who started a failed “reset,” Donald Trump, with whom they liked each other.

The mere fact that all these presidents are former, and Putin is still in power, allows Russian propaganda to argue that Putin has outplayed everyone, and, therefore, his policy is correct. This is about how another famous Vladimir with a last name Ulyanov, not caring about logic, argued that "Marx's theory is omnipotent because it is true."

Nonetheless, Biden suffered the unpleasant burden of almost inaction on the part of the United States as Russia turned into a mafia state and Putin's personal power regime was strengthened.

There were many assumptions, rumours, and apprehensions before Geneva. Many believed that the summit was untimely, that it was a reward for Putin. Many (including myself) considered it a mistake to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2. Many feared that Biden would not speak harshly enough with Putin, demanding Biden to confirm that he considered Putin a killer. They recalled the summit in Helsinki, after which Putin finally decided that he could do whatever he wanted, not only in Russia but around the world - no one would stop him.

The summit in Helsinki was prepared by the professional team of the previous president, no less professional than Biden's team. The difference was that the previous administration spent a lot of time and effort to ensure that US policy depended as little as possible on the boss's whims. The current presidential team has no such problems.

I do not remember a more powerful US preparation for the summit meeting with Russia. The three largest summits - G7, NATO, US / EU - have straightened transatlantic relations and, thereby, layd foundations for the leadership in the discussions of the world agenda. President Biden came to Geneva with the support and trust of the entire democratic world, with a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

With what did Putin come to the summit? With unconstitutional "zeroing out," the imprisonment of opponents, new facts of poisoning and sabotage in Europe, hacker attacks on the United States, with support for a psychopath in Belarus, and so on and so forth. Russian propaganda did its best to ensure that all these actions were firmly associated with the name of Putin. It succeeded.

Putin was noticeably nervous both before the summit and at the summit. He tried to forestall what he thought were the main claims of the United States. He spoke about some red lines, beyond which he would never allow America to go, accused the United States of behaving no better than the Kremlin with the opponents of the authorities, thereby admitting his sins. After the summit, Putin somehow awkwardly tried to present the matter in such a way that the main issue of the meeting was cybersecurity, that he also gave examples of hacker attacks on Russia from the territory of the United States, and, after that, the leaders agreed to cooperate in this area. In general, he tried to "blur" the essence in his style, but could not.

Before the summit, much attention was paid to some insignificant issues. Apparently, the old school of "Kremlinologists" was involved, which carefully studied the medical cards of the Soviet gerontocracy and missed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The press discussed in detail the external details of the meeting in Geneva, but even here, in protocol matters, Biden's team worked at a high professional level, not allowing, for example, Putin to use his favorite trick: to make his vis-a-vis to wait for him a long time.

The summit culminated in press conferences: of Putin, in a dead room dominated by obedient reporters, and of Biden, in outdoors with fresh air, against the backdrop of a lake and mountains. At the request of the American side, the press conferences were held separately.

During the press conference, Putin continued to be nervous, gesticulated animatedly, and was visibly agitated. He outlined his vision of the results of the summit, once again stressing that it was Biden's initiative. For some reason, he believed that it was very important, that by this, he was already gaining some kind of an imaginary victory over America. His prepared lines of accusations against the United States, with threats to everyone, were simply inappropriate and looked like pitiful excuses for illegal actions both at home and outside Russia. But he admitted that he and Biden had discussed all important issues in one way or another, including Belarus and Ukraine.

Biden's press conference showed the difference between the Geneva summit and all the previous ones. It was a master class on conducting a confident, systematic, balanced policy towards an unpredictable and dangerous Kremlin.

Before the summit, Biden was urged: show him, once he made concessions, hit him properly, you have to beat him.

In my opinion, Biden "hit," but he did it "with respect."

He did not try to compare their ego or try to reset. He just clearly and distinctly outlined American interests, his vision of global problems, and the suspicion about the actions of the Kremlin.

Biden made it clear to Putin how much his weight in the world has diminished, and how much irritation with his actions has grown. The US President has clearly said that it is too early to discuss global security issues with the head of the Kremlin, that this requires stable points of contact, and not Putin's current destructive behavior.

Biden did not enter into any bargains, he simply laid down to Putin the US policy in the coming months, and let him think if he can.

Regarding Belarus, what worries us most, Biden emphasised in one sentence that there is no such legitimate head of state as Lukashenka, and Putin agreed with this. Of course, the owner of the Kremlin, like his counterpart in Minsk, is not known for excessive truthfulness, he may even feebly deny everything so as not to provoke another psychic seizure in Minsk, but Biden did not lie.

In general, outlining a range of issues, including Belarus and Ukraine, that need to be resolved in order to finally start discussing global security, which is extremely important for Putin, Biden stated the principles on which the United States can cooperate with Russia.

Biden gave Putin from 3 to 6 months to demonstrate his intentions, after which it would be possible to assess the real results of Geneva.

At the end of the press conference, Biden flared emotionally and angrily objected to CNN journalist that he had never spoken about his "confidence" in Putin's ability to change. He later appologised to her. For me, this was the best indicator that the President of the United States knows what he is talking about, fully controls the information, and is even emotionally committed to results.

It seems that the "Grand Style" that the leader of the free world demonstrated is returning to politics. This style is distinguished by a comprehensive systematic preparation of important political meetings and decisions, a firm consistency in their implementation, in which it is permissible to show external respect and adherence to principles to the most unpleasant opponent.

As a result of this meeting, the "American Press" may be turned on in relation to Russia, after which there will be either a high-quality product in the relations between the two states or a "seed cake" from worthless Kremlin politicians.

Andrei Sannikau, Facebook