AS the international media struggles to appease US and China while scapegoating Putin, it shrewdly hides Biden’s Europe game plan to win over Putin against China.
The Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia with Europe (Germany) is the reward. It will diffuse financial impact of sanctions on Moscow with projected overtime income of $150bn while giving political advantage to Russia in Europe.
As seasoned foreign policy experts, Biden and his team have made their move, which Putin cannot resist. Europe is part of this three-pronged multilayered move.
The Boeing-Airbus truce is part of it. The European energy companies backed by their countries include Zug (Switzerland), Engie (France), Wintershall Dea and PEG Infrastruktur AG (Germany), Gasunie (Netherland) and Nord Stream 2 AG of Gazprom (Russia) will provide gas to Germany, France and Denmark.
It will bypass traditional energy transit routes of Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus and Poland with political implications.
Trump in exclusive interview to Fox condemned the NS waiver. He did not demand for its scrapping but reminded the viewers that Biden has blocked the US-Canada Keystone XL Pipeline.
He warned that US would not be energy independent after two months. The intermittent energy supply in last four months will impact industry in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas.
By rejecting windmills for ruining land and killing birds, Trump wants the XL pipeline in infrastructure deal just like the NS pipeline. Trump expanded the scope of US-Russia relations further.
He said that the relationship between both countries was mutually beneficial. They needed US for improving their economy and America valued their land with minerals.
It shows that Republic party also supports Biden’s Russia policy. The timing of the interview and Trump’s views shows that there is political consensus in America on Biden’s Russia policy.
The meeting was part of election politics. In 2022 US midterm elections, all 435 seats of Congress and 35 Senate seats are up for contest.
The Republicans need just five seats to win the majority in Congress while Democrats need 19 to maintain it.
Biden’s statement was for the voters back home in which he said that his agenda on Russia was not against Moscow, but for the American people.
Biden met Putin to show that he was defending American interests during his America-is-back visit to Europe. Putin came to the meeting to stand at the world stage.
The State Duma or Lower House elections are due in September 2021 in which contest will be held for all 450 seats. The United Russia ruling party has 343 seats with 54.2% of the votes in 2016 elections.
Putin successfully used the press conference to build his image internationally with progress on NS pipeline, plan for bilateral talks on cyber security and refusing any guarantee on Navalny’s safety in prison.
By saying that Ukraine has work to do on corruption to get into NATO, Biden has saved his options.
He did not confront Germany, France and Russia that are part of “Normandy Quartet” Minsk Agreement with Ukraine. It saved the day for all. Putin wants to uphold the agreement while the experts say that it is a political accord and as such not binding under the international law.
Biden wanted to show the world that America is back so he ignored Ukraine to keep Europe united.Cyber security is important area. The agreement between both countries on the cyber security and arms control will help make things stable and more predictable.
The cyber security is a sensitive issue due to allegations of interference in US elections, the May shutdown of a pipeline that caused disruptions and threats of response. Cyber security is in mutual interest of the two countries.
The experts have called for a multilateral approach for better outcome instead bilateral level talks in pilot phase.
By using Democrats list of human rights in press conference, Putin pushed American leadership and its media on the defensive when he referred to shooting of unarmed individual by the police, Black Lives Matter and lack of police accountability.
Biden’s statement of upholding human rights failed to impress international audience due to its selective use on Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Myanmar, other war zones and fate of immigrants in Europe and America.
On militarization of Arctic, Putin dispelled the concerns. He said that on the contrary Russia is open to cooperation in the region and it follows international law.
He added that I do not see any problem that cannot be solved. However, he made it clear that ships will need permission to enter five bay areas including Russian.
Before leaving Geneva, Biden said that we talked about how to ensure Arctic remains area of cooperation on conflict. Biden said that Arctic was, in fact, a free zone.
Russia is however pushing for including military force in the Arctic Council, which first of all deals with issues of environment, climate, biodiversity and research, and military and national security are not part of the Council mandate.
Both countries need to work to have efficient measure to strengthen trust and security in the region to avoid military-political standoff in the Arctic as Moscow plans to link with Alaska.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.