Putin's drawback with Biden is more likely to be each private and political


Good chemistry: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference following their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – With Russian President Vladimir Putin failing to congratulate Democrat Joe Biden after his planned victory in the US presidential election, experts say there could be a big – and personal – problem between them: a lack of chemistry.

"We should keep in mind that neither Biden nor Putin like each other," Anton Barbashin, political analyst and editor-in-chief of Russian magazine Riddle, told CNBC on Monday.

"There could be no chemistry between them, so US-Russia relations will inevitably become even more confrontational."

While European leaders congratulated Biden, the winner of the November 3 presidential election, according to NBC forecasts, Russia was silent until Monday when the Kremlin spokesman said Russia would not comment on the election until the official result is released and Moscow took note of President Donald Trump's announcement of legal proceedings related to the vote.

Even so, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Putin had repeatedly stated that he was ready to work with any US leader and that Russia hoped it could enter into dialogue with the new US administration and find a way to normalize relations .

The obvious coolness of Russia's reaction to Biden's planned victory contrasts sharply with its enthusiastic welcome to Trump's 2016 election victory.

Russia was accused of meddling in these elections, particularly in the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party hacking and distribution of emails, and the US imposed sanctions on it.

Still, the sanctions did not seem to prevent what appeared to be a cordial relationship between Trump and Putin, the leaders who, at least in public, appeared to respect and like each other.

Trump's praise for his Russian counterpart caused a stir in 2018 when Trump, after a high-profile summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki, blamed both countries for the "strained relationship" and believed Putin's rejection of meddling allegations despite advice to the contrary from US intelligence services.

Trump then claimed the day after the summit that he had spoken wrong when he said he hadn't seen why Russia interfered in the elections and insisted that he wanted to say he saw no reason why it didn't Russia would have interfered.

"Immense challenge" for Russia

It is widely expected that Biden will take a more confident stance towards Russia. The outstanding questions include progress on a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine and Nord Stream 2, the massive gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany that the US is against.

Under Trump and his "America First" agenda, which characterized his approach to trade and foreign policy, Russia was not a big problem for the administration, and that suited Putin, experts noted.

"For Moscow, the main benefit of the Trump presidency was that it increased internal divisions in America, alienated Washington from its traditional allies, and was inconsistent in the formulation and implementation of policy goals," said Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and chief analyst for Russia at Verisk Maplecroft said CNBC Monday.

"The Kremlin will have mixed feelings about the outcome of the US presidential election," he added. A Biden presidency is likely to pursue a "more aggressive Russia policy".

"Looking to the future, Moscow faces an immense challenge in dealing with the incoming Biden government. Aside from allegations of influencing the election in 2016, the US has also accused Russia of bountying US forces in Afghanistan. It persists also broad consensus across the US political spectrum on issues such as opposition to Nord Stream 2. With America still divided, more aggressive Russia policy is one of the few areas where bipartisanism can be expected to be maintained, "he noted.


Experts agree that there is one thing that President-elect Biden offers that Russia likes, and that is stability.

Experts like McDowell note that the same traits that made the Trump administration Russia – such as a lack of consistency and alienation from previous allies – were also "worrying for a Kremlin that prioritizes stability and predictability".

Political scientist Barbashin agreed that Biden's presidency "means more predictability, which at least simplifies planning and makes it easier to predict US behavior."

There are also some areas where Biden and Putin could even work together, with Iran's nuclear program, arms control, and even Syria being potential negotiating areas.

Arms control is definitely a good place to start for Biden and Putin, experts agree. In 2019, Biden announced that he would like to see an extension of the major US-Russia nuclear weapons reduction treaty known as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (or New START), due to expire in February 2021, or the implementation of a treaty similar Deal.

McDowell said there could be a similar push on the Russian side to resume arms control negotiations: "An important priority of Putin will be to resume negotiations on the new START arms control treaty, as bilateral nuclear deals with the US are one of the metrics on which to deal Russia as a & # 39; great power & # 39; measures. "


Katherine Clark