US-Russia relationship on edge due to Biden’s swipe at ‘murderer’ Putin
Less than two months after taking office, President Biden has given a glimpse into the new relationship between the United States and Russia. In a high-profile interview with ABC News, he also said that Putin will soon “pay the price” for meddling in the US elections.
The statements were prompted by a report by American intelligence services stating that the Russians tried to blackmail Biden in the last election campaign in order to help Donald Trump win a victory. The 2016 presidential elections also clearly showed Russian interference, particularly through social media.
Biden’s tone is therefore completely different from that of his predecessor Trump, who especially wanted to keep Putin as a friend. “It’s actually a threat from Biden,” said Russia correspondent Eva Hartog. “While the tone of the Americans towards Russia under Trump was super friendly for four years.”
What strikes Hartog above all is Russia’s calm reaction. Putin wished for Biden a first reaction good health and remained subtle by stating between the lines: what you say, you are yourself.
Hartog: “It is striking how modest and cautious Putin is. Because no one dares to say to Putin that he is a murderer. But this seems to be the new course that the Russian president is going to take. He wants to be seen as the rational leader above Biden. state.”
According to her, that is a completely different course that Russia is taking against Europe. For example, EU foreign chief Josep Borrell was unexpectedly embarrassed during a visit to Moscow recently. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called the EU an ‘unreliable partner’ in his presence and expelled three European diplomats during the visit.
Ambassador back to Moscow
Although there was a quick response to the Biden interview. The Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoli Antonov, has been recalled to Moscow. That seemed a sign that the crisis had broken out, but the recall has now been watered down by the Russians to a moment of ‘reflection’ on relations with the Americans.
According to America expert Raymond Mens, Biden mainly wants to convey with his ‘muscle language’ that America is once again a country of norms and values under him. “That includes calling crooks crooks.”
Still, he does not expect the US to take firm action against Russia. “I would be surprised if very dramatic measures follow. The ‘price’ that Putin will pay will at most consist of new sanctions. I also think that Biden wants to exclude him from the international stage, as with the G7.”
Hartog also expects sanctions against Russia to be tightened. That are already set for the poisoning of the much-discussed opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who has now been incarcerated for years.
Finally, it is not unimportant: Biden and Putin know each other through and through. In the interview with ABC, Biden took a famous anecdote from the stable. In 2001, then President George W. Bush said after a summit with Putin that he had looked him in the eye and seen his soul.
Later, Biden, then chairman of the US Foreign Affairs Committee, and Putin met in his office. Biden would then have looked Putin in the eye himself and said: you have no soul at all. To which Putin responded wittily: ‘we understand each other’.
Mens: “These are two men who have known each other for a long time. In addition, Putin is a power politician who knows that he is now dealing with another president. But he is not easily impressed.”