If Putin isn’t rethinking his legacy after meeting with Biden, perhaps he should be | Opinion
Much to the surprise of a confused corps of experts, history could well conclude that while President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin did not make big headlines, their summit could prove to be one of the defining events of the 21st century.
We may find out soon.
As Biden told reporters and the world after the summit ended, “What will happen next is that in three to six months we can look back and say, 'Have we done the things we agreed to sit down and? try to work, did it work? ... Are we closer to a great strategic stability? ’... That will be the test."
It will be Putin's test - a pass / fail test. And so it happened: Biden and Putin formed two joint working groups - one to stop the threat of global cyberattacks, which could be the nuclear weapons of the new age; the other to reduce the still threatening risk of the old nuclear arsenals.
Working group formation may seem boring, but it could turn out to be a very positive big deal - because it means US and Russian officials will be working together again. (Just like shortly after 9/11, when Russia's missile technology general in his Kremlin office delighted me with stories about how he had just returned from the US, where, to his shock and awe, his US colleague general took him for inspection a top secret US nuclear missile silo!)
Besides, this is not just Putin's test, he also knows what the one word pass / fail answer is: "Stop!"
US experts believe Putin had to approve the two most recent ransomware cyberattacks in the US, in which criminals based in Russia shut down a large oil pipeline and a leading meat producer. In addition, US intelligence agencies announced a long time ago that Putin personally approved massive cyber sabotage of the US presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020.
The key moment of the Geneva Summit may well have been the threat that was not a threat. When discussing cyberattacks, Biden calculatedly turned the tables on Putin: "I was talking about the proposal that certain critical infrastructures should be closed to attacks - period," Biden told reporters. “... I gave you a list ... 16 specific units ... defined as critical infrastructure under US policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.
“When I was talking about the $ 5 million [oil] Cyber pipeline - the ransomware hit in the United States - I looked at him and said, 'Well, how would you feel if Would ransomware take over the pipelines from your oil fields? "?" He said it would matter. This is not just about our self-interest; it is a matter of mutual self-interest. ”(Remember, the late John McCain once called Russia“ a gas station masquerading as a country ”)
On Thursday morning, a television interviewer asked former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to summarize Biden's performance at the summit. "I thought it was ... a master class in diplomacy," she said. "You have to put yourself in the shoes of the other person sitting across from you so that you know ... what they want."
Exactly. Now Putin might find it helpful to think back on a grand plan he once had to make Russia a major player in the world economy - and how he almost got it. Until he mixed things up for himself and Russia in a burst of anger.
I called it Putin's Sochi Two Steps. Russia was economically stressed and isolated from the global economy before 2014 when Putin almost dared a brilliant but risky game: 1. Putin spent a fortune to make Sochi the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which gained worldwide recognition; 2. Putin, as the rotating chairman of the G-8, also arranged for Sochi to host the group's economic meeting in late June - and he planned to use Russia's new respect to attract huge international corporations and investors.
But instead, after the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine agreed to new trade relations with Europe and rejected Russia. Putin thought that was a national disgrace. Furious, he militarily conquered the Crimea. Of course, the G-8 canceled their meeting in Sochi, kicked Russia out and renamed itself the G-7. Russia's economy has since suffered, made worse by Putin's harsh militarism and cyberattacks.
At the summit, Biden skilfully maneuvered Putin into a win-win position that he would never have been able to take militarily: an opportunity that Russia can re-enter the world economy and give us the rest of us a certain amount of peace.
Now Putin needs to rethink what his legacy should be.
Martin Schram, a columnist for the Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, writer, and television documentary filmmaker.
© 2021 Tribune Content Agency
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President of Russia
46th President of the United States
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