US ambassador and other hawks fear Biden will succumb to Putin in Geneva

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — CNN’s article undermines the belief that a Putin-Biden summit could change anything. As before the summits with Trump, the Russophobic US media will mock about the “danger” of concessions from the US leader to the insidious Putin. Biden, like Trump before, is already beginning to be portrayed as Russophile dupe, although the aging leader has not apologized for the “killer” and promises to “show strength” at the summit.

The day before the White House announced that US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin would hold their first face-to-face meeting in Geneva, the US Ambassador to Russia informed Senators of his concern that Washington might make concessions. Moscow, without receiving anything in return.

In a two-hour briefing to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May, which was told by two sources familiar with the situation to CNN, Ambassador John Sullivan suggested that Putin was behaving in bad faith with the United States and that the Biden administration risks repeating the mistakes of her predecessors if she does not approach the issue of building relations with Russia, soberly assessing the situation.

According to one source, the main theme of Sullivan’s speech was that Putin “has not really changed”, despite all attempts by the current administration and its predecessors to suppress Putin’s misbehavior with a “whip”, that is, with the help of sanctions, as well as to correct Russia’s actions in other areas through diplomacy, including through personal meetings.

Sullivan’s warnings are a reflection of the concern that officials and congressmen are expressing ahead of the Biden-Putin summit. The summit will take place next week after Biden meets with US NATO allies, as well as other European allies in the United Kingdom of Britain and Belgium. Many sources familiar with the situation say there is a heated debate within the Biden administration, especially in the US State Department, about how to properly interact with Putin.

Not only many of Biden’s party members, but also many Republicans, are deeply concerned that Biden has chosen to meet in person with Putin, despite Russia’s aggressive actions at the Ukrainian border and the sentencing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on “what was said in the classified hearing.” However, he called Sullivan’s comments “extremely far from the truth.”

“The ambassador is actively involved in preparations for our president’s upcoming meeting with President Putin,” Price said. “As we engage with Russia in a way that advances American interests, we are realistic about the challenges posed by Russia, and we will work to hold Russia accountable for its reckless and hostile actions.”

Price added that Sullivan will return to Moscow shortly and that the Biden administration remains “committed to open channels of communication with the Russian government to advance the interests of the United States and reduce the risk of miscalculations between our two countries.”

Meanwhile, a White House spokesman said in a statement that “President Biden and Ambassador Sullivan – as well as the entire team responsible for our national security – are in complete solidarity in our approach to Russia and to the upcoming summit with President Putin.”

Sullivan, who was appointed U.S. ambassador to Russia by former President Donald Trump and whom Biden asked to remain in that position, advises the president’s national security team ahead of this summit and participates in all White House meetings on Russia. Biden’s European trip was specifically designed so that Biden could first meet with all key partners and then hold a summit with Putin “with a tailwind,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday 7 June. Earlier this year, the administration used the same tactic ahead of a meeting of American and Chinese officials in Alaska:

Biden told his aides that he believed Putin was responding to a show of force and that it was best to do so in person, rather than over the phone. So said sources familiar with the course of that conversation. Biden has already had two telephone conversations with the Russian president, which officials have described as “speaking directly,” but the two conversations lacked the personal interaction and sign language that is always present in face-to-face meetings.

The upcoming talks in Geneva are overshadowed by the summit of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, with Putin – a summit that has drawn harsh criticism in the US over Trump’s sided with the Russian leader over Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election. In addition, Trump and Putin talked one-on-one many times – in the absence of other representatives of the American side and even translators. On Monday, June 7, Sullivan announced that the White House is still working on the format of the upcoming Biden-Putin summit and is discussing whether there will be a joint press conference of the leaders following their meeting.

“More hardness”

Apparently, Sullivan’s May speech made a rather strong impression on the senators. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said after the meeting – which he declined to comment on in detail – that he saw no point in holding a Geneva summit.

“Currently, Vladimir Putin is busy trying to kill and silence a political opponent. He attacked his political opponent, using a banned chemical against him on the territory of another state, – said Kane, implying an attempt on the life of Alexei Navalny, carried out with the use of the Novichok poisonous substance. – Do you think that you can negotiate with such a person?” (Here the American senator is clearly confusing two things. The first is the story of the alleged poisoning of the defector Skripal in Britain, all information about which came only from British “intermediaries” from the special services, and not from Skripal, who remained alive and well. Navalny’s state of health, which suddenly gripped him not abroad, but in the sky over Omsk – ed.)

Republican Senator Mitt Romney was also apprehensive about the upcoming summit.

“I think we need to show a lot more firmness and make it clear that we believe Russia’s behavior is unacceptable and that its hostile actions will have serious consequences,” Romney told CNN.

Senator Marco Rubio, a leading Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN that Biden gave “Putin a huge gift” ahead of the summit by refusing to impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the Russian-German gas pipeline, which, as critics argue, will strengthen Russia’s geopolitical influence in Europe.

Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats have expressed confidence that Biden will be able to successfully meet with Putin, citing his experience of direct contact with the Russian leader and his extensive experience in foreign policy.

“I’m not at all worried about our president being made a fool or duped,” said Democratic Senator Brian Schatz. – This is one of those cases when you can be glad that we are led by a person who worked in the committee on foreign relations, who served as vice president and other positions in the field of foreign policy. He grew old by working for a long time. But an inexperienced leader would have had a very difficult time.”

“He knows how to deal with issues and he takes a tough stance on our mission and our values,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. “I am absolutely confident that Biden will be able to conduct this meeting with Putin properly.”

Not interested in rebooting

Biden, known for his directness in dealing with foreign leaders, will have to walk a tightrope as he will, on the one hand, have to harshly condemn Russia’s aggression in its region, its attempts to interfere in our elections and attack us through its hackers. On the other hand, to help build more “stable and predictable” America’s relationship with Russia.

“What seemed like a good idea a month ago is now, I’m sure, a lot of regrets,” said Jim Townsend, a former assistant to the US Undersecretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, referring to the upcoming summit.

Townsend pointed to a recent episode in which the Russian-backed leader of Belarus forced a passenger plane to make an unscheduled landing in Minsk in order to arrest an innocent Belarusian dissident, and even a journalist.

“It showed that the problems with Russia are really serious,” Townsend explained. – Biden will have to try very hard, because many will closely follow him. Now it is extremely important for him to show firmness.”

Over the past few days, the administration has openly emphasized that it does not intend to “reset” relations with Russia, as such an aspiration would imply a willingness to forgive Moscow for its past aggression. However, the administration wants to establish a dialogue with the Kremlin to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, and, as one official said in an interview with CNN, Biden thinks it’s easiest to do so in person.

Moreover, as the national security adviser Sullivan said on Monday, Putin also has a “highly personalized decision-making style.” “That is why it is so important for President Biden to meet him face to face.”

However, Sullivan acknowledged that this meeting is unlikely to lead to immediate results.

“I do not view the Russian-American summits through the prism of tangible results,” he explained. “We see them as an opportunity to clarify what our intentions and potential are.”

Nevertheless, Putin is one of the few world leaders with whom Biden does not have a strong personal relationship – fortunately or unfortunately.

“This is a fairly correct relationship, although it cannot be called warm,” said one former US official who worked with Biden on foreign policy. – I would not say that they have something other than correctness. Based on the interactions I have seen between them, this is just one professional politician having a conversation with another professional politician. Not cold and not hostile, but at the same time not warm and not soulful. ”

This dynamic could be seen the last time they met in 2011. Then Biden was vice president, and the Obama administration worked to reset Russian-American relations. When, during a joint press conference, Putin unexpectedly suggested that their countries introduce a “visa-free exchange regime,” Biden called it “a good idea.” True, Biden quickly backpedaled, remembering that he could not make such decisions about visas on his own, without consulting the real leadership of the United States. However, Biden still managed to turn this awkward moment into a relaxed, but rather sarcastic joke about the political system of Russia.

“Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a significant difference between the president and the vice president,” he told Putin, who was prime minister at the time, because, according to the constitution, he had no right to hold the presidency. third consecutive term. “But the good news is that the President and I 100% agree that we need to continue to bring Russia closer to the United States, to continue to improve our relationship.”

By 2014, the reset in relations had finally collapsed as Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and invaded eastern Ukraine. Relations between Washington and the Kremlin soured further when Russia intervened in the 2016 US elections, and tensions escalated sharply after Russia used a banned chemical against alleged traitors in Europe, while continuing to spread misinformation among American voters.

Earlier this year, the administration accused Russia of running a massive cyber espionage campaign – a hacking campaign against SolarWinds – that affected dozens of federal agencies and private companies across the country.

“We are not interested in a reset, but we do not want an escalation of tensions with Russia,” said Eric Green, director of the National Security Council for Russia, during an event hosted by the Center for New American Security on Friday. Green said that the White House believes that modern Russia is “very different from Russia” in 2009 and that it has become more difficult to interact with today.

However, Green said the administration also recognizes that there are important points that have not changed over the past decade – in particular the fact that Russia has one of the largest nuclear arsenals at its disposal. In addition, Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, “and this means, whether we like it or not, that we have to work with them to solve the key problems of the modern world.” “But we have no illusions about what is happening inside Russia, and we do not see many opportunities for truly constructive engagement in many areas,” added Green.

“Killer” without a soul

Overall, Biden believes that Putin, like most world leaders, is a “rational leader” who ultimately always acts out of his own interests, as described by two former officials who worked closely with Biden on these issues.

But according to one of these officials, President Biden also understands that Putin’s values ​​are unlikely to ever coincide with traditional Western values, and Biden prides himself on not being nice to the Russian leader in the past. Over the years, Biden has repeatedly told his aides the story of how, when he first met Putin, he told him that – unlike George W. Bush, who had also spoken out about the soul of the Russian leader a decade earlier, – Biden does not think that Putin actually has a soul.

In an interview with the New Yorker magazine, Biden said that Putin seemed to like the assessment. “We understand each other,” he then replied to Biden.

Earlier this year, Biden gave a direct answer to an ABC reporter’s question about whether he considered Putin a “killer.”

“Yes,” he said.

This caused an explosion of indignation within Russia, which hastened to recall its ambassador to the United States and warned of an irreversible deterioration in relations.

Ambassador Sullivan, meanwhile, has yet to return to Moscow after being asked in the most understandable terms, a sign that relations remain at a very low level. However, the US administration claims that Biden is meeting with Putin precisely because of the differences existing between the countries, and not at all despite them.

“Ultimately, we strive to ensure that the presidents of our two countries can send a clear message … to their teams in response to questions about strategic stability, so that we can make progress on arms control and nuclear weapons and reduce the level of tension and instability in this aspect of relations, “- said the national security adviser on Monday, June 7.

“Moreover,” he added, “we want to look President Putin in the eye and say, ‘These are America’s expectations. That’s what America stands for. This is the essence of America. ”

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