Beyond Ukraine, many issues for the Biden-Putin talks

WASHINGTON (AP) – Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine will be the focus of talks between President Joe Biden and Russian Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, but many other thorny issues are on the table as well, including cyber attacks , human rights, and US-Russian relations which, according to a Kremlin spokesperson, are overall in “a rather dire state”.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a prominent Moscow-based foreign policy expert, suggested that progress in nuclear weapons control and cybersecurity since the Geneva summit will be discussed, and that regional topics like Syria, Afghanistan and the North Korea could be briefly mentioned, but mostly it will focus on the tensions around Ukraine.


“All conversations these days are Cold War style – Cold War fashion meaning we don’t solve problems together, the only thing we do is defuse tensions where they grow.” Ukraine and Eastern Europe – there is this effect of rising tensions, or at least it is perceived. In all other places, Russian-American tensions are not increasing, so there is nothing to say, ”Lukyanov told the PA in an interview on Monday.

The White House and the Kremlin have tried to lower expectations over the call, with both sides saying they do not expect any breakthroughs on Ukraine or other issues to be discussed. But the two powers argue that the conversation – the leaders’ first since the summer – is progress in itself.

US officials said the appeal would not be limited to the Ukrainian issue alone, as other issues “critical” to national security must be discussed.

A look at what’s on Putin and Biden’s agenda when they speak on Tuesday:

IRAN

After the latest round of talks aimed at bringing Iran back into line with the 2015 nuclear deal came to nothing, the international community must make key decisions in the coming months on what to do next. subject of the atomic program of this rapidly advancing country. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal, but Biden made rehabilitation of the deal a top priority as Iran enriches uranium closer to the level of purity required for a weapon . Russia is still a party to the deal and the two leaders could discuss next steps to try to convince Iran to return to honoring the deal.

SPACE

A Russian anti-satellite missile test last month sent a cloud of debris into low Earth orbit forcing astronauts on the International Space Station to take cover and NASA to delay a spacewalk. The test, which the United States condemned as “conducted recklessly”, raised new fears about the militarization of space and the prospects that such tests could pose risks to the exploration and development of space. space for generations to come. The Biden-Putin talk will also take place weeks after China is revealed to have tested a hypersonic suborbital weapon. The White House said Biden would stress the importance of “strategic nuclear and space stability” during the call.

PRISONERS

Two former US Marines, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, are jailed in Russia on charges the US government considers unfair. The U.S. and Russian governments have already expressed openness to talks about potential prisoner swaps that could lead to the release of the Americans, and Biden has vowed to continue to raise their plight with Putin.

DIPLOMATS

The United States and Russia are in the midst of a long-standing feud over personnel at diplomatic outposts in their respective countries, but talks have been underway for months to ease tensions. The United States closed two Russian complexes in 2016 in retaliation for Russia’s interference in the elections and also expelled some Russian diplomats for espionage. Russia retaliated by shutting down U.S. outposts and reducing America’s ability to hire local workers in Moscow to staff its embassy. The feud has escalated in recent months over visas for U.S. diplomats in Russia, leading to critical personnel issues. Agreement to ease tensions could be reached as ‘deliverable’ of the call, officials said

CYBER-SECURITY

On Monday, a year after the disclosure of the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign located in Russia, security firm Mandiant said hackers associated with Russian foreign intelligence agency SVR continued to steal data “relevant to Russian interests. With great effect. During their first in-person meeting in June, Biden urged Putin to crack down on malicious cyber actors and, earlier this year, sanctioned some companies and individuals associated with the effort. The Biden administration has attempted to develop “rules of the road” for activity in cyberspace, but there has been little progress on the issue since the June summit.

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Litvinova reported from Moscow.


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