US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have perhaps left Geneva with a sense of a job well done. The summit between two countries, assailed by a mutual distrust, has passed without major disagreement and a significant list of areas of cooperation was accepted.
But unraveling the details and making tangible progress will be much more difficult, Russia warns.
“This is a challenge for higher diplomatic mathematics,” remarked Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “In this matter, of course it is important to show not only political will, but also a creative approach.”
Putin and Biden agreed at a summit on Thursday to resume talks on arms control, establish bilateral discussions on cybersecurity and exploring the potential of exchanging detained citizens in each other’s prisons. Both sides have failed to make progress in these areas in the past.
“There is no complete match,” Ryabkov said in an interview published by the foreign minister on Friday. “If that was the case, then in general it meant that all the agreements had already been reached.”
“On the contrary, we have the impression that the American approach contains very different costs from ours.” Combining these approaches, these two formulas, will be an intimidating task, ”he said in reference to arms control discussions, adding that further consultations could begin“ within weeks ”.
The United States has withdrawn from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty – which bans surface-to-air missiles at a distance of 500-5,500km – under President Donald Trump and has resisted discussions over a deal. substitution that does not include China.
Meanwhile, Washington has accused Russia of ordering, supporting or encouraging cyberattacks on U.S. companies, government departments and infrastructure. Moscow denies these statements and says it is also a constant victim of attempted piracy.
And while Putin and Biden claim that a continuous dialogue between their military in Syria, they are still in direct opposition to Moscow’s support for Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Biden said the test would be if the talks have progressed over the next three to six months, but injected his own note of skepticism about the task of reaching out to reporters after the summit: “When I said I was confident ? “
Their separate press conferences have allowed the two executives to offer professional compliments to each other, repeating long-standing claims.
Biden condemned Russia’s treatment of opposition activist Alexei Navalny and warned of “devastating consequencesFor Moscow if he were to die in prison, he also criticized the harassment of foreign media by the Kremlin.
Putin, speaking earlier, compared Navalny’s incarceration to those prosecuted for taking part in the January uprising at the U.S. Capitol, and cited the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to charge Biden d. hypocrisy over human rights.
But the general attitude of the two suggested that the talks had at least paused the spiraling descent of relations between the two countries to a post-Cold War nadir.
“We have been warned not to have any excessive expectations for this summit from the beginning. But we can say now, first of all, based on the opinion of the president himself, which can be described as rather positive,” the spokesman said Friday morning. of Putin, Dmitry Peskov.
“The two leaders have had the opportunity to present their positions directly and to understand more or less clearly where interaction is possible and where there can be no interaction for now due to categorical disagreements.”
In a move that should help both sides turn presidential agreements into tangible results, each country’s ambassadors are set to return to their seats in the coming days, following months of absence following decisions to return to home for consultations.
But Peskov prevented rapid progress. There has been no concrete agreement made on cybersecurity, he said, and “no deadline” for a possible prisoner exchange.
“There are framework discussions at the state level, and then a lot of very difficult work will start,” he said, referring to the prisoner exchange. “We have to start talking at work. In fact, it’s the same for all the other problems. “
A senior Biden administration official, saying the aim of the summit was to inject stability and predictability into the relationship, also kept expectations low.
“[W]We will not turn on a light switch, “the official told reporters after the summit.” This will be an ongoing process and the final test is whether there are practical results. “