US President Joe Biden wants to befriend Russia and antagonise China, but it seems that the Democrat Party and internal politics will never let the Biden administration achieve this crucial geopolitical goal.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has disclosed that the US is preparing a new package of sanctions against Russia, days after the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva where the US displayed willingness to work with Russia in mutual areas of interest. Sullivan’s latest remarks have however ruined the newfound sense of practical cooperation between the US and Russia after the Geneva meeting between Putin and Biden.
Sullivan informed that the new package of sanctions being prepared by Washington concerned the controversy surrounding Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. He also disclosed that the Biden administration would continue to impose sanctions on Russian companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Putin administration is actually stunned by the latest announcement. Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov said, “This is not a signal we all expected after the summit.” Antonov added, “I don’t think it is possible to stabilize and normalize relations between countries by means of sanctions.”
The Russian diplomat stressed, “The current task is to normalize dialogue. First of all, we need to restore wrecked dialogue mechanisms.”
It is very understandable for Russia to be annoyed by Biden’s behaviour. It was the US President who actually sought a better working relationship with Russia but days after reaching an ostensible understanding with Putin, the US is vilifying Moscow all over again. So, what happened? Well, it seems that Biden’s foreign policy is to seek a reset of Russia-US ties but his domestic compulsions do not allow him to pursue this foreign policy agenda.
It was actually Biden who waived sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 AG company which is involved in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for supplying Russian gas to Europe. Then, Biden went into a meeting with Putin at Geneva, where the Russian President dominated the scene.
Things had actually started moving in the right direction. Putin even held a press conference after meeting Biden and also gave strong answers, while talking to the American media. He talked about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and also seemed to take a dig at the Biden administration over several issues.
The Biden administration, on its part, sounded very submissive and surprisingly not even remotely as tough as it had promised to be. Biden also brought in the idea that Russia is being “squeezed by China.” The US President impliedly suggested that Moscow may be willing to work with the US and other countries because of the threats posed by China.
A day prior to the Geneva summit between Biden and Putin, a US-based media outlet Cyberscoop, published a report which mentioned that the Russian government agencies were allegedly hacked by Chinese hackers. The content and timing of the report suggested that the US wanted to clarify how China is becoming a big threat to Russia.
Biden actually showed a willingness to wean Russia away from China, by helping it escape isolation from the free world. An anxious report by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times, criticising Biden’s attempts to drive a wedge between Russia and China actually corroborated how Biden’s new strategy was working.
However, the issue is that while Biden understands how the Russia-China-US geopolitics works, he doesn’t have much internal support and backing from his own party when it comes to embracing limited cooperation with Russia and isolating China. Radical progressives and socialists in the Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders are constantly forcing Joe Biden to antagonise Russia and befriend China. And Biden is clearly failing to withstand all the internal pressure directed against him.
So, even if the overall foreign policy calculus of the Biden administration is to achieve some level of understanding with Russia, it will not happen due to purely internal reasons.
Now, while Russia is looking for the US to earn some confidence and actually show some reliability, Biden is unable to deliver it. Therefore, Russia will have to stay cordial with China, despite having some serious differences with Beijing over a range of issues including competition for geopolitical influence, Chinese expansionism and Beijing-sponsored attempts to steal Russian defence technology.
Biden’s behaviour and his domestic compulsions leave Russia with no choice but to stay close to China for the time being.