How US-Russia relations with the Biden administration will change. The analysis by Nona Mikhelidze, head of the Iai “Eastern Europe and Eurasia” program, published in AffariInternazionali
In recent years, relations between the US and Russia have progressively deteriorated due to various crises that began with the Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008, continue with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and then with the still lively conflict in Ukraine, the hybrid war of the Kremlin against the West, up to its alleged interference in internal politics and especially in the elections of the countries of the axis transatlantic.
In 2014, the United States imposed punitive sanctions against Russia, trying to increase and strengthen them from year to year, thus hitting the Nord Stream 2 – the gas pipeline that carries gas from Russia to Germany – in 2019. “The Congress of States United and literally overwhelmed by the desire to do everything to destroy US-Russia relations, ”commented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the time.
The situation has worsened further after the Skripal case in 2018 and similarly, in the past months, after Alexey Navalny’s poisoning with the nerve agent novichok. At the end of 2020, Washington said that a group of hackers supported by the Russian intelligence agency Svr had carried out a serious cyber attack on the US federal government.
Against this background, what could be the US foreign policy with Joe Biden in the White House towards Russia
And how Moscow could respond DEMOCRACY RETURNS TO THE AGENDA
“I call on my colleagues, democratic leaders around the world to put the strengthening of democracy back on the global agenda… Vladimir Putin wants to believe, and make everyone else believe, that the liberal idea is ‘obsolete’. But he does it because he is afraid of his power “: words of Joe Biden in the editorial-essay” Why America Must Lead Again “, published last year in Foreign Affairs, also arguing that the fight against corruption, the defense against authoritarianism and the promotion of human rights around the world will be high on his administration’s foreign policy agenda.
Its allies in promoting democracy will be not only those like-minded national governments, but also and perhaps most importantly civil society organizations and human rights activists. In this context, Biden promised to “impose effective costs on Russia for its violation of international norms and to stand with Russian civil society, which has courageously sided several times against President Vladimir Putin’s kleptocratic authoritarian system.”
In the field of democracy promotion, the front line of the “battlefield” where the new US administration and Russia will face each other will also be extended to the post-Soviet space and will include at least Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. Already as deputy to Barack Obama, Joe Biden had dealt with US-Ukraine relations and had visited the country on six occasions. Very active in promoting anti-corruption reforms, he fought vigorously in support of the rule of law. During the last election campaign, the Democrat promised to increase assistance to Ukraine, including military support. Thus, one can only expect further consolidation of relations with Kiev not only in the promotion of democracy and in the process of implementing reforms, but also in the field of security.
Greater emphasis will also be placed on democracy in Georgia, where an oligarchic regime is in power, and in Belarus, at the center of months of continuous protests against the dictatorship of Aleksandr Lukashenko. Biden has already spoken out in support of the Belarusian people, criticizing Moscow for helping the autocrat maintain power.
According to Biden, therefore, and by his own admission, the democratization of the post-Soviet space “would serve as a powerful counter-example to the rule of the kleptocratic and authoritarian government of Moscow and would de-legitimize its authority in the long term”. THE REACTION OF MOSCOW
A Biden willing to put democracy back on the global agenda will, however, put relations between Washington and Moscow in the balance. As early as 2012, Putin was convinced that the West was preparing to overthrow his government and end his leadership. And similarly he condemned the “color revolutions” in the Russian neighborhood and argued that Washington was behind the Euro-Maidan events of 2013-2014, seen by him only as a coup and an unconstitutional attempt to bring down the government. pro-Russian of Kiev.
In general, the promotion of democracy by the United States has been interpreted by the Kremlin as an American interference in the Russian sphere of influence, imposed with the aim of establishing pro-US governments to rise to power and, subsequently, sparking a regime change also in Russia. In response, Putin has created his own narrative around Russian democracy, which has its own traditions of self-government and is not an embodiment of foreign-imposed standards.
In view of the upcoming parliamentary elections of 2021 in Russia – and given the deterioration of the socio-economic context in the country -, the Kremlin has already taken some caution, starting to limit the political life and activities of citizens. Putin has just signed a new bill on “foreign agents”, to indicate as such the NGOs, the media, journalists and human rights activists who receive subsidies from abroad; all realities suspected of being involved “in the interests of a foreign state”. With the new controversial restrictions, restrictions have also been imposed on public demonstrations and the blocking of roads in protest has also been criminalized. A DREAM PICTURE ON THE HORIZON
Thus, as Joe Biden prepares to lead the transatlantic community in promoting Western values, the Kremlin begins to harden its authoritarian system. Considering that neither side will compromise its geopolitical principles and interests, one can only imagine a gloomy picture, full of political and diplomatic crises between the two countries.
That said, collaborations and occasional agreements cannot be excluded. The extension of the New Start Treaty on the reduction of US and Russian nuclear warheads, due to expire in February of this year, could be the prime example.
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