January 26 the President of Russia Putin held the first official telephone conversation with the incoming President of the United States Biden. According to the Kremlin press service, the head of state congratulated his American counterpart on the start of work. Vladimir Putin noted that “the normalization of relations between Russia and the United States would meet the interests of both countries and, given their special responsibility for maintaining security and stability in the world, the entire international community.”
In addition to the usual phrases, the presidents managed to discuss the agreement on the reduction of strategic offensive arms START-3, expressing satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes on its extension. They also discussed other bilateral and international issues, in particular, the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, the problem of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, internal Ukrainian settlement, as well as the Russian initiative to hold a summit of permanent members of the UN Security Council. The conversation in the Kremlin was called “businesslike and frank.”
However, the White House had its own interpretation of the conversation. Representative of the President of the United States Jen Psaki told reporters at the briefing that, in addition to discussing START III, Biden called the Russian president to “reaffirm strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, and to raise concerns, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russians awarding awards to soldiers US in Afghanistan, 2020 election interference, poisoning Alexey Navalny and the treatment of peaceful protesters by the Russian security forces. “
American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky believes that the diplomatic first conversation between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden should not be misleading. Despite the fact that the parties agreed on the extension of SPV-3, this will most likely end the constructive relationship with the United States, but the pressure on Russia, on the contrary, will grow, especially in the first two years of the new administration.
– If it was the usual time and the usual presidency in the United States, I would say that it is too early to judge by the first telephone conversation, because the administration is just getting down to work. But in this case, all the conclusions have long been drawn, and not in our country, but in the United States. Not a new administration has come to the White House. All people, their positions and statements are well known to us.
Unlike the previous US president, Joe Biden, alas, was not shy in expressions about Russia and its president. This alone creates a very bad background for any kind of relationship. And everything that the largest think tanks and publications advise this administration suggests that the atmosphere of the end of the second term awaits us. Obamaas if there were no past four years.
More precisely, it will be even worse, because accusations of Russian interference in the American elections were added to all the contradictions. All these bureaucrats are very much offended by us for the fact that they had four years out of their careers. They convinced themselves that this is exactly what happened. Therefore, there is no doubt that the pressure on us will be very serious, especially in the first two years.
“SP”: – But judging by the statements after the conversation, he was “businesslike and frank”, the parties discussed a number of important issues. Maybe there is hope for constructiveness?
– Let’s see how this conversation was presented on Western information platforms. According to their interpretation, it turns out that the presidents were not talking about possible cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and not about the extension of START-3 (the agreement was indeed signed, ratification has already arrived in the Duma). No, Joe Biden very harshly reprimanded Russia and personally Vladimir Putin for allegedly paying Afghan militants for the death of American soldiers. It turns out that we were reprimanded for Alexei Navalny, which became almost the main topic, demanded to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the United States, and so on.
This way of bringing this conversation to the American market speaks of prioritization. The American media have focused on ideological work and clearly understand what is at the forefront of politics. This is pressure, including interference in the internal affairs of Russia. This is the trademark way of doing the liberal internationalists, who constitute the absolute majority in the new administration. So the presidents talked about it, but told the press about it in completely different ways.
“SP”: – Can the extension of START-3 be called a positive step?
– On the one hand, this can be viewed as the success of our diplomacy, which insisted on the longest possible extension of the treaty. It was actually extended on our terms without additional requirements. Obviously, the Democrats themselves wanted this, since the politicians of this party consider the agreement useful for the United States.
But in all other respects, I do not think that we will have new successes. It is significant that the conversation of the presidents was used to whip up pressure and hysteria around Russia. Perhaps something will be brewed along the line of restoring the Iranian nuclear deal, but in the same vein.
Otherwise, there are very few intersections, but there are many words about how Moscow is doing wrong and how it should be punished for it. It was difficult to expect another. The Democrats have gone to this for a long time, and now they will carry out an ideological cleanup both inside the country and outside. They have very little time, so they will rush things. Times are going to be tough for us, so I wouldn’t overestimate the importance of this conversation. It could not fail to take place, but its presentation in the West says a lot.
“SP”: – In the conversation you mentioned the Open Skies Treaty, can the parties return to it or other agreements canceled in recent years?
– I do not think that the Open Skies Treaty will be restored. In any case, if we talk about the so-called strategic stability treaties, there are two significant factors that prevent us from being overjoyed at the fact that some of them have been preserved or extended.
Firstly, these agreements refer to the technological cycle of the 70s-80s and do not play a significant role at the new level of technology development. All further US actions, both in the media and in the negotiating field, will be built around the latest Russian weapons systems, which is not beneficial to us. Now the contract has been extended, and in six months they will begin to declare that we are violating it by the presence of Avangard and Sarmat, I do not even doubt that.
The second point is that after the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty, this whole structure went askew. It is now pointless to prove that our latest weapons are the answer to the challenge of that time. There will definitely not be a return to the ABM treaty, the Washington establishment under any president, even if Rand Pole, will build missile defenses and try to make America strategically invulnerable.
Therefore, the preservation of START-3 in itself is not as important as the INF Treaty. When laser weapons are tested, when weapons are launched into space, when the Arctic is militarized, all this is no longer so relevant.
If we had an adequate relationship with the Americans, we could talk about real threats of the 21st century plus cybersecurity. But this is impossible, so all these missile agreements, alas, no longer correspond to the current situation. Much more significant things will happen in terms of hybrid confrontation, and they are already growing. And against Russia, and against the Modi government in India, and against a number of other countries. Biden has not yet taken a pen to sign the first decree, but it all has already begun.
Everything will be determined by this, and not by whether they are ready to cooperate with us under any agreements. And the question should be about whether we are ready to cooperate with them in conditions when Biden personally called Putin a criminal at least eight times, and leading American think tanks advise to put pressure on Russia from within.