Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint McGovern: Trust Lacking at Blah Summit

Posted by M. C. on June 18, 2021

By Ray McGovern Posted on

Aside from establishing face-to-face contact between the the two presidents, the Biden-Putin summit today met only the most modest expectations of those hoping for improved ties between the U.S. and Russia. By the same token, weapons makers and others profiteering on tension with Russia, and living in fear of a thaw in bilateral relations, can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s appearance on Russian TV early this morning, at which he dampened expectations, turned out to be a harbinger of things to come later in the day. Peskov said, “Clear signals had been sent to Moscow that the US would try to “restrain and pressure” Russia, adding that the constant talk about punishing Moscow “does not make the overall atmosphere any easier.” Putin himself charged recently that US leaders “want to hold back our [Russia’s] development and they talk about this openly.” At his press conference after the talks, Putin also charged that US attempts to “contain” Russia remained a huge fly in the ointment.

Baby Steps Forward …

Diplomats: Putin announced that the Russian and US ambassadors would be returning to their posts to work on what he called “an enormous backlog.”

Strategic arms: The Russian president reported an agreement to start interdepartmental consultations under the aegis of the Department of State and the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Cyber security: Putin said the two sides “have agreed, in principal, to sit down at the expert level and start working” on this issue, which he called “extremely important.”

Ukraine: Putin: “This issue was touched upon. I cannot say that it was done in great detail, but as far as I understood President Biden, he agreed that the Minsk agreements should be the basis for a settlement in southeastern Ukraine.

Tone: Putin described the conversation as “quite constructive,” with “no hostility at all.”

What was clearly absent was mutual trust. The key issue of trust came up at both press conferences. What was clear is that, in contrast to more productive summits in the past, even a modicum of trust was lacking. Mistrust has been the byword since the Western-sponsored coup in Ukraine (which Putin was particularly acerbic in denouncing today). That coup on Moscow’s doorstep and the coup regime’s expressed wish to join NATO prompted Russia to annex Crimea which hosts Russia’s only year-round naval base at Sevastopol. The coup and subsequent annexation shattered trust all around and account for the nadir reached in Russia-U.S. relations today.

… Now Big Steps Backward

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