MOSCOW, 01 Jan 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The almost hour-long conversation between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, which took place on New Year’s Eve by phone, both inspired and puzzled. Inspired, because both leaders made it clear that each of them has their finger on the pulse of negotiations on strategic security and that their attitude is the key to success. Puzzled, alas, for exactly the same reason: everyone felt that the movement towards agreements is carried out, in fact, in manual operation. And no other guarantees of our security with you (both European and American), except for the goodwill of the leaders of Russia and the United States, are currently not visible.
In itself, this reminder is strategic. It became the main content of the conversation, during which the parties, of course, confirmed the starting positions before the negotiations. This is also essential. It is no secret that a large number of experts and politicians took part in the heated discussion that unfolded after the start of the dialogue between the two presidents on December 7 of the outgoing year, who tried to make adjustments to it with varying degrees of responsibility.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, for example, initially rejected the discussion of “non-expansion”, and then came up with the idea to revive the Russia-NATO Council, which for the past five years has purposefully shut down and, in the end, successfully shut down, showing exactly how he and the Alliance entrusted to him understand the meaning of “responsible dialogue” with Russia, if they are not called to order.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrel, was also impressed when he proposed to blur the format of security consultations in order to discuss the claims that the EU has accumulated against Russia since 1975 during the negotiations on missiles.
Obviously, these are far from the last attempts to break the format, schedule, and indeed the entire procedure of security consultations, which can lay the foundations of stability (or, conversely, instability) for the entire 21st century. The closer the parties are to a result, the more there will be the desire to impede them.
The fact that in their communication on the night of December 30 to 31, the leaders agreed “to continue regular contact at the highest level”, as well as their intention to “keep the course of discussions under personal control”, suggests that they, as very experienced politicians who are determined to achieve a concrete result, understand this threat well. Hence, the confirmation of the schedule and format of negotiations at the highest level. This is perhaps the most important message from Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin during their last conversation: they say everything is according to plan. On January 9-10, consultations between representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States will take place in Geneva, on January 12 they will continue within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels, and on January 13 discussions will begin in Vienna through the OSCE.
However, even such a thorough elaboration of the details does not mean that the presidents will not need to communicate with each other again before the consultations themselves begin.
Elena Panina, Director of the RUSSTRAT Institute