WASHINGTON, June 17. /TASS/. The Geneva meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Joe Biden of the United States was a promising beginning, Director of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute for advanced Russia studies Matthew Rojansky told TASS, commenting on the Russian-US summit that took place in Geneva on Wednesday.
"President Biden set expectations for the Geneva summit appropriately low. He described his goal as moving towards a more stable and predictable relationship, and putting guardrails on potentially escalatory behavior. By these measures, the summit was a promising beginning, but only a beginning," he pointed out.
The expert emphasized that "despite holding separate press conferences, the two presidents issued a joint statement, focusing on an issue essential to the core national security of both sides - strategic stability." "The statement repeated what Reagan and Gorbachev said some three and a half decades earlier in their own meeting in Geneva, namely that a nuclear war can never be won and should therefore never be fought," Rojansky added.
"At a moment of intense difficulty and high risk in the US Russia relationship, even this basic principle is of vital importance, all the more so coming from two leaders known for their tough approaches to one another," the expert noted. "Biden and Putin further agreed to return their ambassadors to their respective embassies, and to engage in diplomatic exchange in key areas, starting with a dialogue on strategic stability. This is the right format within which to address the question of what will come after expiration of New START in 2026, as well as what can be ‘rules of the road’ for managing competition and risk in cyber space," Rojansky emphasized.
He noted that "President Biden is the fifth US president to negotiate with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and showed that he has benefitted from his own and his predecessors’ experience." "While standing firm on issues of clear disagreement like the Ukraine conflict and the Kremlin’s treatment of political dissidents, he kept the focus on objectives where progress may be possible, like nuclear arms control, cyber security and US citizens detained in Russia, and he sent the signal that even these issues will require considerable work and ongoing diplomacy," the analyst stressed.
"Critics who said that by even meeting with Putin, Biden somehow showed weakness might consider that a bit of Ronald Reagan’s playbook was evident in Biden’s approach to Geneva: Reagan’s favorite Russian proverb was famously, ‘Trust, but verify.’ Biden aims to verify first, and only then trust," Rojansky concluded.