July 26, 2021

in Geneva, Moscow in search of “geopolitical respect”

Before his meeting with his American counterpart, on June 16 in Geneva, Vladimir Poutin multiplies the interviews, and this unusual loquacity is undoubtedly the most obvious sign of the limited expectations of the Russian side. On Russian television, the head of the Kremlin even said it clearly: no “Breakthrough” to expect from this summit, but a first contact, “Restore [les] personal relationships [avec Joe Biden, qui l’avait traité publiquement de « tueur »], improve direct dialogue, create functional mechanisms on subjects of common interest ”.

In an interview, broadcast on Monday by the American channel NBC, Mr. Putin mainly focused on clearing any possible contentious issues: no, Russia did not seek to interfere in the American elections or carry out cyber attacks against Washington – “I am amazed that we were not accused of having provoked the Black Lives Matter movement. [« les vies noires comptent »] », he quipped. He also denied any assassination attempt on the opponent Alexeï Navalny – “We don’t have that kind of habit. “

This disillusioned tone of “American partner” has been a constant in Russian diplomacy since Joe Biden came to the White House. Beyond the posture, there is the conviction that the confrontation is here to stay. Witness the disappointed hopes of the Trump presidency, marked by the multiplication of sanctions on both sides.

Sergey Lavrov repeated it again on June 9, regarding the Geneva summit: “We don’t have excessive expectations of breakthroughs, no illusions”, warned the head of Russian diplomacy, stressing only “The need for an exchange of views (…) between two great nuclear powers ”.

Moscow, “key player”

The Russian attitude has another explanation: for Moscow, the essentials have already been obtained. The very announcement of a meeting between the two presidents, which is moreover on the initiative of Mr. Biden, was seen on the Russian side as a victory. The state media treated her with undisguised triumphalism. A senator from the ruling party went so far as to estimate that Joe Biden had “Lost his nerves”, since it was enough for Russia to mass troops at the borders of Ukraine in April to achieve such a result. Observers close to the opposition came to the same conclusion, they bitterly.

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