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US-Russia summit gives hope for easing tensions in relations between two countries

19:21 | 25.06.2021 | Analytic


25 June 2021. PenzaNews. Moscow has sent to Washington a range of proposals as a follow-up to the agreements reached at the Geneva summit, Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on Monday, June 21.

US-Russia summit gives hope for easing tensions in relations between two countries

Photo: Kremlin.ru

“All participants [left Geneva] with the hope that Russian-US relations would stabilize. Certainly, we expect that tomorrow will be better, better not only for Russia and the US, but the entire world. That’s because the situation not only in Russia and the US but also in the entire world depends on how our presidents held talks and what agreements they reached,” he said.

“In the first hours of today we sent to our colleagues a series of proposals on the meetings, on the need to hold a serious conversation on how we will live together. We have no other option but to live without quarreling on this planet. That’s because as Russian President Vladimir Putin stated many times Russia and the US bear special responsibility for international peace and security. We should cooperate and there is no other option,” Anatoly Antonov said.

The return of the ambassadors to the capitals of the two countries became possible following the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden. Thanks to this, the parties are ready to launch consultations on other issues of diplomatic interaction.

In addition, during the summit in Geneva, the parties announced their intention to start bilateral negotiations on strategic stability.

“The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” US-Russia Presidential Joint Statement says.

Analyzing the results of the summit, Greg Thielmann, Board Member of the Arms Control Association and former office director in the State Department’s intelligence bureau, INR, who was specializing in political-military and intelligence issues, called it critically important to stabilizing the bilateral relationship.

“The discussions were structured in a way that provided an opportunity for frank and direct conversation behind closed doors about the causes of tensions in US-Russia relations.  At the same time, it provided reassurance to publics in both countries that meaningful high-level exchanges had been initiated,” the expert told PenzaNews.

According to him, public reaffirmation that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” was an essential guidepost for subsequent discussions.

“Commitment to ‘an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue’ implies that no serious concerns raised by either side – whether it is the strategic impact of missile defense, new nuclear-armed weapon systems, highly accurate conventional weapons, or cyber-weapons – will be ‘off the table’,” Greg Thielmann said.

In his opinion, negotiations on strategic stability will be of great importance for the establishment of bilateral cooperation between the states.

According to the ex-State Department official, such assessments of the meeting, which were voiced by the leaders of the countries, – in particular, Joe Biden said that its “tone [...] was good, positive,” and Vladimir Putin said that “the conversation was quite constructive,” – “bode well for the promised intensification of the dialogue at lower levels.”

Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist at Princeton University, who served the Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, also positively assessed the results of the meeting in Geneva, expressing hope for the expansion of interaction between the parties in the foreseeable future.

“The meeting between the leaders of Russia and the United States was constructive. I hope that we can return to cooperation on global problems,” the expert said.

He stressed that one of the most important topics for the talks between Moscow and Washington is the issue of nuclear security, which is relevant for all countries of the world.

“I hope we can begin serious discussions on establishing understandings that reduce the danger of accidental nuclear war and that put us on the track of further nuclear reductions and caps on the Chinese, French and UK nuclear arsenals,” Frank von Hippel said.

In turn, Ryan Hurl, Department of Political Science, the University of Toronto, shared the opinion that the US foreign policy to some extent is a dividing line in American domestic politics.

“How much does it matter that political partisans in the US are willing to use international politics in a cynical manner, in the never ending pursuit of political advantage? This is difficult to say, though I think it does have the effect of eroding trust in political parties, journalists, etc.,” the expert explained.

At the same time, in his opinion, it is rather difficult to evaluate the effects of the negotiations between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, as well as any other set of talks.

“Looked at from the perspective of the American people, the goal of foreign policy in the 21st century should be to disentangle the US from foreign policy commitments and projects that threaten to disrupt the international order, commitments and projects rooted in nostalgia for the 20th century and an unrealistic assessment of the need for American primacy in the 21st century. I think there are signs that the Biden administration accepts this, and is therefore willing to pursue accommodation with Russia,” Ryan Hurl said.

Meanwhile, Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution and an author of several publications for the National Interest magazine, called the summit useful.

“In terms of specific policy ideas, limits on cyberattacks may be the most promising area of future discussion. We will see in the months to come,” the expert suggested.

He also admitted that at first he was skeptical of the talks, but changed his mind after the summit.

“I’ve decided that Biden showed a solid grasp of his agenda and also that he displayed a realistic sense of what the meeting could accomplish. And Putin was relatively non-confrontational. So that was all promising,” Michael O’Hanlon said and added that the biggest oversight of the meeting was inattention to a new security order for Eastern Europe including Ukraine.

According to Thomas Graham, Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the meeting marked a small step forward in alleviating the tension in US-Russian relations, which had reached dangerous levels since President Biden assumed office in January.

“Relations are not being reset, however. They will remain fundamentally adversarial for the foreseeable future. Are differences over the principles of world order, regional conflicts, and values are too great for it to be otherwise,” the expert explained.

He shared the opinion that the most important agreement was to begin separate talks on strategic stability and cybersecurity.

“These are complex issues and progress is hardly guaranteed but there will be no long-term improvement in relations without eventual agreement on arms control and a code of conduct in cyberspace. […] It is thus imperative to produce results and lessen tensions in this critical field,” Thomas Graham said.

“Otherwise, the meeting allowed the two leaders to lay out their interests, expectations, and redlines in relations. While it is clear that major differences remain, such candid talks can reduce the risk of misunderstandings and misperceptions that can lead to a conflict that neither side seeks,” the expert concluded.

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