Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Biden to Putin in Geneva: There's a New Sheriff in Town.

| June 17, 2021

Experts weigh in on the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva

No great breakthroughs or dramatic developments were expected at the Biden-Putin summit, and none was achieved. This was simply a first step in establishing the relationship between a new American administration and the long-standing Putin regime in Moscow. The Biden administration's broad goal was obviously to signal a departure from the instincts and approaches that shaped US policy toward Russia during the Trump presidency. Trump's bizarre sycophancy toward Vladimir Putin, his willingness to side with Putin against elements of his own government, his unwillingness to confront or even address contentious issues, his indifference toward if not distaste for American allies and values, and his failure to articulate and defend US interests, gave his Russia policy an unprecedented, distinctive, eccentric character. Trump's own summit with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018 is regarded by all but his ardent supporters as an embarrassing spectacle, a low moment in his presidency.

Putin met a very different American president in Geneva. Biden challenged Russia on the issue of cyberattacks, made clear that the United States would respond in kind to such assaults, and proposed that critical infrastructure be deemed unacceptable as cyber targets. He was outspoken in his championing of human rights and raised the case of arrested Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, even warning of "devastating consequences" for Russia if Navalny should die in detention. He publicly rejected Putin's efforts to use domestic unrest in the United States as a defense of Russia's human rights behavior. He expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine, prompting a sharp retort from Putin that it is none of Washington's business....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

 Miller, Steven E."Biden to Putin in Geneva: There's a New Sheriff in Town." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 17, 2021.