What to Look for at the Biden-Putin Summit


Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva next week under much different circumstances than those surrounding the ill-fated meeting in Helsinki between Putin and Donald Trump in 2018.  Few suspect that Biden harbors any secret affection for Putin or rejects key judgments of the US Intelligence Community.  Few believe that any grand bargain between the two heads of state is possible or desirable.  But both sides also seem to share a common belief that the dangers of an unwanted US-Russia confrontation have grown too great for comfort.

Can the two presidents find a pragmatic way to manage competition while avoiding past pitfalls?  What signs should we look for at the summit that might provide clues about how this critical relationship between the world’s foremost nuclear powers might develop? The Center for the National Interest hosted a panel of experts on June 10, 2021 to hear a range of perspectives on these questions.   

•    George Beebe is the Vice President & Director of Studies at the Center for the National Interest. He is the former director of Russia analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency, a former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney on Russia matters, and author of The Russia Trap: How our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe.
•    Melinda Haring is the Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and former editor of its UkraineAlert publication.  She is the vice-chair of the board of the East Europe Foundation in Kyiv, a member of the supervisory board of the Right to Protection NGO in Ukraine, and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
•    Andrey Sushentsov is the Program Director of the Valdai Discussion Club and Director of the Institute of International Studies at MGIMO University. He was a Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Guido Carli Free University of International Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard University and Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey.
•    Paul Saunders (President of the Energy Innovation Reform Project and a Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Center for the National Interest) moderated the discussion.