Tomorrow, in the historic Villa La Grange in Geneva, the summit of the two heads of state between skepticism and hopes: this is what is at stake
Tomorrow between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will not be an easy match. Rather. According to the forecasts and above all to the declarations on the eve, on both sides, at best it will be a beginning. Not more. Yet the summit proposed by the American president and accepted by the Kremlin number one still represents a reason for hope, if only because it testifies to the desire for a dialogue that was simply unthinkable until recently.
It is no coincidence that, in the words of Donald Trump’s successor, Putin has passed over the weeks from “killer” to “worthy opponent, tough but brilliant”. And neither are the declarations on the eve on the Russian side: the face-to-face, according to Putin’s diplomatic adviser Yuri Ushakov, “will take place in difficult conditions because relations between Moscow and Washington are at a standstill. But something must be done ». For this reason, perhaps, the face-to-face will last several hours as the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov anticipated.
The library of Villa La Grange, where Biden and Putin will sit down to discuss
What will Biden and Putin really do, or rather what will they say to each other, sitting on the red leather armchairs of the spectacular library of Villa La Grange? The American president has already announced that he will reiterate the US position to the Kremlin leader: yes to dialogue, but there are “red lines that cannot be crossed”. Lines that start from respect for human rights (see the Navalny case), pass from the common fight to the pandemic and touch on very delicate topics such as strategic stability and the limitation of armaments to end with the most subtle and current war, that of technology and information. The only issue mentioned in recent days by Vladimir Putin who said he was ready to hand over “cybercriminals” to America if the White House does the same. It won’t happen, but as we said it can be a start.
The choice of location for the face-to-face is not accidental: because Villa La Grange, a suggestive eighteenth-century pearl of beauty, immersed in a splendid park overlooking Lake Geneva (and armored as never before for the occasion) has moved to history not so much and not only for its beauty. Here the first Geneva Convention was signed in 1864 and here, a century later (it was 1969) Pope Paul VI appealed to the nuclear powers to become “generous architects of peace”. And because it was in Geneva that 36 years ago the handshake between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
Tomorrow’s summit, useless to have too many illusions, except for sensational twists, will not go down in history. It will be a success if it sanctions even only the return to normal diplomatic relations between the two giants of the planet. As Dmitrij Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and leading political scientist, explained, “we are faced with a total lack of mutual trust”. Vladimir Putin knows it and above all Joe Biden knows it. That after having asked Europe to stand together against China, keeps in mind the words of Gaius Valerio Catullo, who wrote about love but knew about war 2000 and more years ago. And he suggested: “Never fight two enemies at the same time.”