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Putin-Biden summit unlikely to lead to breakthroughs, but may boost dialogue, expert says

Russian International Affairs Council Director General Andrey Kortunov pointed to the possible discussions of global issues and bilateral agenda

MOSCOW, December 7. /TASS/. The virtual summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Joe Biden of the United States that will take place via a protected video link on Tuesday will not lead to any breakthroughs, but it will boost the bilateral negotiation process on a number of issues, Russian International Affairs Council Director General Andrey Kortunov told TASS.

"It’s certainly too early to expect any agreements. Clearly, the talks will take very much time, effort and energy," the expert pointed out. According to him, the summit "will provide added momentum to everything so that things will go faster and diplomats, experts and the military will work in a stepped-up pace in their quest for agreements."

"Many are linking the conversation solely to the developments on the Russian-Ukrainian border and believe that the talks won’t lead to any positive results because Moscow and Washington have radically different views of Ukraine’s problems," the expert emphasized. In his opinion, Biden "will be neither willing nor able" to provide the Russian leader with guarantees that NATO would not expand to the east, while Putin, in turn, won’t manage to persuade his US counterpart to pressure Kiev on the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. "Indeed, it is hard to expect any breakthroughs here, particularly because the United States - at least formally - is not a member of the Normandy Four process," the analyst explained. Washington "did not sign the Minsk Agreements and accordingly, it’s not responsible for their implementation." The expert believes that the best possible achievement will be for the parties to confirm their interest in making sure that "conflicts in Ukraine and around it are resolved without the use of military force, but through talks."

The specialist did not rule out that Russia and the United States would promote dialogue on other global issues. In this regard, Kortunov particularly mentioned the parties’ efforts to coordinate their activities in Syria. "After the Geneva meeting between Putin and Biden on June 16, the United Nations Security Council’s 2020 resolution on humanitarian aid was extended, which made it possible to prevent the humanitarian situation in Syria’s Idlib from deteriorating," the expert stressed. "As the seventh round of multilateral talks on the Iran nuclear deal has finally taken place in Vienna, it would also be reasonable to exchange views on Iran," he went on to say. "There are also issues related to the green agenda and a number of regional problems on which the parties probably could reach some kind of understanding," Kortunov noted.

The commentator also pointed to the possible discussions of the bilateral agenda. "Following the Geneva meeting, Russia and the US launched consultations on strategic stability and the future of arms control. There has been some sort of progress even on cybersecurity issues, which is also important," he said. Kortunov stressed that strategic stability remained a difficult topic in terms of dialogue between the two countries. "The question is if strategic stability issues should be discussed at the bilateral level or be brought before the five nuclear powers (Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States and France - TASS)," the analyst pointed out. He emphasized that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), extended in February, would remain in effect for another four years but it was already clear that it would not be possible to extend it for five more years, while any new treaty would have to reflect the current situation, including significant technical progress in the field of nuclear weapons. "It would be good if the parties managed to somehow step up these talks at the top level, spur the process and maybe outline some compromises that negotiators are unlikely to come up with by themselves," Kortunov concluded.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that Putin and Biden would discuss tensions around Ukraine, NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders and the Russian leader’s initiative on security guarantees.