Biden errs by giving Putin a ‘pass’ in Geneva summit

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Originally published by Arab News

When US President Joe Biden in March described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer with no soul,” he knew exactly what he was talking about. And during the Geneva meeting between the two leaders last week, Putin indeed killed it. He accomplished what he wanted from the US and more.

Following his first international trip as president, the Biden administration has declared the president to be the clear, consensus leader of the free world, according to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. “Whether it’s standing with friends or engaging with difficult competitors like Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden showed throughout this trip that he is striding across the world stage with confidence and purpose and a singular focus on defending American interests and values and those of our allies,” Sullivan told reporters.

Was Biden’s meeting with Putin fruitful? For Moscow, it definitely was.

Biden wants the approval of the international community, regardless of the consequences of his decisions. The US has already given Russia the green light to finish the 95 percent-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline by waiving sanctions on an ally of Putin who leads the firm behind the project, which will take gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

The question about US policy is what is Washington getting in return?

It seems that the Biden administration is seeking a more stable relationship with Moscow after a tense first six months. That desire was translated into action when the two heads of state agreed to allow their ambassadors to return to each other’s capitals.

Even though critical issues were discussed during the two-and-a-half-hour Biden-Putin meeting — such as the Russian aggression in Ukraine, human rights, and cybersecurity — there were no signs of agreement on any of these issues.

Biden’s decision to meet his Russian counterpart was hasty and miscalculated, since Moscow has the upper hand in areas that pose a major threat to the interests of the US and its allies, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa.

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