(Moscow) The Kremlin on Friday considered Joe Biden’s call “positive” to reduce the Russian-American escalation, believing that Vladimir Putin was on the same line, which gave substance to the idea of holding a summit between the two men.
As usual after each wave of sanctions, the Russian presidency described the new punitive measures that Washington announced on Thursday against Moscow were “unacceptable”.
Nevertheless, the Kremlin was somewhat satisfied with the words of the American head of state on Friday.
President Putin (the first) spoke about the necessity of normalizing relations and stopping escalation. He talks about it constantly. “It is a position that I am convinced of,” said Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“From this point of view, it is positive then that the views of the two heads of state coincide,” he added, noting that Washington and Moscow have many differences.
On Friday, the administration of the President of the United States issued a wave of sanctions targeting Russia in response to a series of actions blamed on Moscow, including a giant cyber attack and interference in the US elections in November. Moscow denies any involvement.
Since coming to power, Joe Biden has promised to be more assertive than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who is accused of appeasing the Kremlin master. In March, he went so far as to call Vladimir Putin a “killer”.
But the US president also suggested earlier this week to his Russian counterpart that he convene a summit on neutral ground.
On Thursday, he said, “The time has come for calm,” considering holding a bilateral meeting “this summer in Europe” as necessary for “launching a strategic dialogue on stability” in the field of disarmament and security.
The idea of such a meeting was well received in Moscow, with Mr. Peskov even claiming Friday that Vladimir Putin was the first to offer an in-depth dialogue.
He was referring to a March 18 call for a public conversation over the Internet the next day after Joe Biden called the Russian president a “murderer”.
The White House did not accept the offer, which appeared to be merely an extension of the arms pass.
On Friday, Finland offered to host a possible Russian-American summit. It had already hosted the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in July 2018.
Punishments and delusions
Relations between Russia and the United States have seen a significant deterioration since 2014 and Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Even under Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his appreciation for Vladimir Putin, Washington has stepped up sanctions.
Those announced on Thursday, to which Moscow has promised to respond soon, include the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats and a ban on certain purchases of Russian debt.
It also targets companies accused of supporting intelligence piracy activities in Moscow.
It’s a response to the massive 2020 cyber attack, officially attributed to Russia, which used SolarWinds, an American software publisher whose product had been compromised, to insert a vulnerability into its users, including several federal agencies.
With Washington’s direct involvement, Russian foreign intelligence has succeeded in getting rid of “illusions.”
This Russian-American ballet comes at a time of increasing Russian-Ukrainian tensions, as Ukraine accuses Moscow of seeking a war justification for its invasion and Russia accuses Kiev of preparing an attack against the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The West called on Moscow to reduce its forces in the region and expressed support for Kiev. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Paris on Friday to talk about the matter with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Russia has repeatedly said its maneuvers do not pose a threat and considers them an appropriate response to NATO’s growing presence in Eastern Europe and its support for Ukraine.