The ultimate reason why the summit meetings between the American and Russian presidents are the subject of global attention, nuclear weapons could be the lifeline of Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (16).
The leaders will hold the first meeting with Biden as president in Geneva, Switzerland. A menu of indigestible themes has already been put forward by the two in interviews, with the reinforcement that no one will change their position and that progress is highly unlikely.
This list includes the civil war in Ukraine, Russian support for the Minsk dictatorship, the Kremlin’s oppression of national opponents like Alexei Navalni.
Biden has already said he will cross the “red lines”, which his former boss Barack Obama attempted with Putin in Syria, only to be humiliated. And the Russian said the differences are clear.
Minor issues remain, such as the resumption of side-by-side diplomatic activities and perhaps a debate over the future of the civil war in the Arab country. And nuclear weapons.
Biden’s first foreign policy move was to extend for five years, as Putin wanted, the last effective nuclear weapons limitation treaty. The American’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had withdrawn the United States from two other agreements and wanted to let Novo Start expire.
Biden reversed the last point and it is now possible to negotiate new limits, new inspection regimes and perhaps even include more sophisticated weapons like the hypersonic missiles developed by Russia.
“We urge leaders to seize the opportunity and make meaningful progress to reduce arsenals and move towards adherence to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign for abolition of nuclear weapons (Ican, in its English acronym). ).
She and a survivor of the 1945 atomic attack on Hiroshima were awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Ican. But his point of view is optimistic, confronted with realpolitik: the owners of 90% of the planet’s nuclear weapons should not give up their arsenals.
“The risk of using weapons is greater today than during the Cold War,” Fihn said. “The only way to eliminate the risk is to eliminate the bombs,” he added.
In a report released this week, the Stockholm International Peace Institute said the Russians and Americans had expanded their arsenals by around 50 warheads by 2020.
“Last year the United States and Russia together spent $ 45.5 billion to develop and maintain their arsenals,” she said.
For her, it would be important to curb the new uses of the bomb. “Qualitative expansion is as dangerous as a growing number of warheads, and we’ve seen how these emerging technologies can increase the risk of weapon use,” Fihn said.
In any case, the two leaders intend to capitalize on the Swiss shock.
Biden can come across as a devotee, who looks good at home and gets noticed by his rivals in Beijing, and Putin will do the same with his domestic audience – not to mention the hostility of an American who l He once called a murderer can be used to justify the US-backed crackdown on opposition.
Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday (15), where he met with Swiss authorities. He said “I’m always ready” when asked about the foreseeable belligerency at the meeting.
The day before, he had said he was not looking for a conflict with Russia, but that the country should be held responsible for aggressive actions. He was speaking in Brussels, where the NATO summit, the Western military alliance demonized by Putin, met.
The final communiqué of the meeting, which for the first time included China as a strategic concern for the club, maintained Moscow as the main threat to the security of member states.
Putin is expected to arrive in the morning, and the meeting will start at 1:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. in Brasilia) at the historic mansion Villa La Grange, in the park of the same name, almost in front of the famous Lake Geneva fountain and not far from the Villa. Diodati, theater of the famous ethyl-literary contest sponsored by Lord Byron in 1818, from which was born the “Frankenstein” of Mary Shelley.
The security involves nearly 4,000 police and military, and the shape of the summit reflects the climate between the two presidents, the worst since the Cold War between Moscow and Washington.
There will be no lunch and the talks will last from four to five hours, attended mainly by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chancellor Sergei Lavrov, assisted by the usual troop of interpreters.
The two leaders will be received by Swiss President Guy Parmelin, who will deposit them in the hotel library.
It will be the thirtieth meeting between occupants of the White House and the Kremlin since the countries took rival courses at the end of World War II in 1945 after fighting together against the Axis.
The most recent meeting took place in another deemed neutral country, Finland, in 2018. Trump there negatively impressed the United States by accepting Putin’s denial that Russian hackers influenced the 2016 U.S. election – in favor of the Republicans.