On December 7, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held video talks. The main item on the agenda was tensions on Ukraine’s borders and possible escalation by Russia. We are discussing the talks between the American and Russian leaders and their nuances in the context of the Ukrainian issue in the program “Ukraine in fact” on UA TV channel with political technologist and reputation management expert Boris Tiesenhausen.
Alyona Chornovol hosts the program.
– President Vladimir Zelensky praised the online talks between his American and Russian counterparts Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. He said that the main thing was that President Biden had a personal role in resolving the conflict in Donbas. Do you share this positive of the President of Ukraine?
– I partially share, of course. But there are also points that I would like to draw attention to.
First, after these online talks, the Russian Federation did not hold a major press conference, as they usually do. And even from the beginning it was announced that there would be no press conference.
In other words, the Russian side immediately understood that they would not be able to reveal any winning topics to the world after this meeting.
It was important for Putin to solve two problems. The first is the certification and launch of Nord Stream 2, and the second is to get at least some guarantees against NATO’s non-expansion to the east. It’s not just about Ukraine, it’s about Moldova and Georgia.
Putin did not receive these guarantees. He could not physically get them. Because Biden could not guarantee non-NATO enlargement. After all, 30 Allies have the right to accept or not to accept Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova into NATO.
But I was alarmed by the moment of the immediate lifting of the clause on sanctions against Nord Stream-2. The US Congress discussed this point. So, there is an agreement. This can be judged through the prism of what Biden said earlier, through the prism of the fact that Biden himself is trying for the second time to establish contact with the Russian Federation. Remember when the Geneva meeting took place? After the concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. Then Congress urgently provided us with $ 100 million in aid, but then froze it because Russia withdrew its troops from Ukraine’s borders. And then Biden came in an ultimatum and talked to Putin.
There is one important point. It is impossible and even contraindicated to talk to an autocrat in the ultimate form.
When you tell Putin “don’t do this,” he will definitely do it. Remember what happened after the Geneva meeting? Biden handed Putin a list of 12 critical infrastructure facilities and said that in no case should we carry out a cyber attack on them, these are our “red lines”. After some time, some of these objects were attacked.
And now, when Biden also says to Putin in the ultimate form: Putin, you have no right to invade Ukraine, you have no right to escalate the conflict, Putin says: well, good. And he still does it in his own way.
That is why we need to prepare for new challenges, new attacks not only from the Russian Federation. I am practically convinced that any provocations are possible at the hands of the already unfriendly Mr. Lukashenko on our huge thousand-kilometer border, which we have only just begun to strengthen.
– What can we expect further from Russia? For example, the Russian Federation is withdrawing troops from our borders – how to understand that this is the result of these negotiations?
– It would be very simple. And that would be proof that Biden won these talks.
If Russia withdraws troops, the whole world will say: look, Biden has talked to Putin, and Russia is withdrawing troops! It will not happen. Russia will support these troops in its repertoire. I think that they will throw some more troops there, they will play on the nerves not only of Europe, but of the whole world. And only then – well, okay, we withdraw troops.
That is, Russia will never take such a direct action that we talked to Biden, we were told to take away – and we took away.
I think Biden has a lot more leverage over Putin than we think.
First of all, it is financial intelligence. Russian officials do not keep money, with rare exceptions, in cash somewhere in Russia. They keep them in the form of real estate in Europe, in the UK, in offshore areas. American financial intelligence can always find that money if it wants to. The children of Russian officials study in Europe in prestigious schools, colleges and universities. Here are the levers of pressure around Putin that Biden can use.
A few more pressure levers. This includes disconnection from the SWIFT system, the freezing of transactions with Russian debt.
Or, for example, a ban on embargoes on exports of oil and gas technologies. Russia mostly uses foreign technologies for oil and gas production. If you deprive them of these technologies, in the short term it will not affect, but in the long term they will lag far behind technologically. Production will become more expensive, Russia’s energy resources will become possible