The Biden-Putin summit is about “stabilizing and bringing more predictability” to the US-Russia relations, and there are “no illusions that these guys are going to be friends,” Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute’s Director Matthew Rojansky says.
“President Biden has set appropriately low expectations in terms of not ending this meeting with a big handshake and a signing ceremony and a joint press conference,” he said. “This will be very much about stabilizing and bringing more predictability to the relationship. The administration has used the term ‘guardrails on escalatory behavior.’”
Biden is expected to bring up many critical issues, such as election interference and cyber security, which are going to be difficult. But there could be some interest in seeking common ground on nuclear stabilities and arms control.
The political experience that both the Presidents bring to the table is recognized on both sides, Rojansky says.
“There’s this notion there’s no illusions that these guys are going to be friends. None of this pretend, hail hello, slapping each other on the back,” he said.
“It’s, at best, mutual respect and mutual deterrence,” he added.
The goal of this meeting is to create conditions where Russia has a stake in dialogue with the US, Rojansky explains.
“Maybe If Russia has a stake in that dialogue going forward, some of the unpredictable, provocative, aggressive behavior can be dialed back. Because in a sense Putin is getting the engagement that he’s looking for.”