Biden and Putin have talked: what comes next?

The positions on Ukraine remain almost unchanged after the video summit between Biden and Putin. Washington interprets the presence of Russian troops near the border as an aggression and is threatening with sanctions, military reinforcements for Ukraine and the boosting of troops in eastern Nato states. Putin sees this as threats against his country. The press focuses on what the summit has achieved despite an apparent lack of progress.

Open/close all quotes (UA) /

Biden as psychotherapist

The US president knows how to put Putin in his place, political scientist Igor Eidman writes in a Facebook post published by

“Biden treats Putin like a dangerous madman while he plays the psychotherapist on whose sessions the patient is psychologically dependent. Dr. Biden knows how to reduce the patient's aggression by demonstratively giving him attention without forgetting to remind him that the orderlies are at the door. After a meeting with his doctor, the violent madman calms down for a while. Before saying goodbye, the psychotherapist sets an approximate date for a new appointment so the patient doesn't go over the edge if he is not treated. The patient understands that if he gets too there will be no next meeting with the doctor, and somehow pulls himself together.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Get Russia to focus on the West again

Biden doesn't want the Moscow-Beijing connection to become too close, La Stampa analyses:

“In 2014, the US drove Russia into China's arms by supporting the overthrow of the Ukrainian regime. ... You don't have to have read Clausewitz to realise that it's not textbook practice to strengthen your main adversary (Beijing) by offering it the considerable military, energy and technological resources of your other adversary (Moscow). The virtual summit between Putin and Biden suggests that Washington is beginning to wonder whether it was a good deal to wrest Kyiv from Moscow and thus hand Moscow to Beijing.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Putin lost this round

Commenting on Echo of Moscow, publicist Leonid Gozman says Biden scored a point victory:

“The White House declared right after the talks ended that Biden had, in effect, issued an ultimatum. According to the 'laws of the street' established by Putin and based on his young years in St. Petersburg, the response should be immediate and firm. But the Kremlin remained silent for a few hours and then made incomprehensible statements devoid of all superpower posturing. So they swallowed it. According to reports from the US, immediately after the talks Biden contacted the leaders of the major European states, which are his allies. But who could our president call? Lukashenka and Maduro? He is alone on this planet.” (UA) /

Moscow not changing course

Putin will not deviate from his strategy for the time being, suspects after interviewing experts:

“We should not expect Putin to change his behaviour after the talks with Biden, said Michael Botsurkiv, a journalist and former participant in the OSCE mission to Ukraine. 'Putin will do what he always does: whatever he wants,' he predicted, talking to But if Putin decides to launch a new round of aggression against Ukraine, it could end up costing him his rule. ... The main goal of this Russian approach is to scare the West and secure legal guarantees from it that Ukraine will remain in Russia's sphere of influence and not join Nato. This was Putin's message to Biden.”

Ukrinform (UA) /

At least talks took place

Ukrinform is satisfied with the outcome of the talks:

“The official press release on the Russian president's website was published three whole hours (!) after the talks ended. ... This is somewhat surprising, but it indicates that the Kremlin is not happy and has had to come up with something to go public with. ... What matters is the fact that the talks took place at all. This means that both sides want to negotiate. However, it will currently be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the US and Russia to agree on anything concrete regarding Ukraine.”

Iswestija (RU) /

Further escalation apparently averted

Izvestia sees signs of a slight easing of tensions:

“Even as the talks were in progress, news came from Washington that offers cause for cautious optimism: some of the economic sanctions against Russia had been removed from the draft of the new US defence budget. ... And more importantly, financial aid to Ukraine remained at the previous - not high - level of 300 million dollars. ... No fateful decisions were announced after the talks. ... But given the current state of bilateral relations, any such meeting is extremely useful. For the longer the diplomats remain silent in international relations, the greater the danger that guns will talks instead.”

The Times (GB) /

Frozen conflict the best scenario

The Times doubts that new economic sanctions against Russia would be really effective:

“That would impose a heavy economic cost, though Russia has been subject to punitive sanctions for years and some of those costs would inevitably fall on western economies. Meanwhile the fact that western leaders are making economic threats is implicit acknowledgment that there is no appetite for military support for Kiev, beyond offers of equipment and training. The best hope for the West lies in a prolonged frozen conflict. That will require patience.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Russia supposed to just stand by and watch

Ria Novosti illustrates how absurd the US's demands sound to the Kremlin:

“Russia should stop 'threatening' Ukraine. In other words, Moscow should passively stand by as Ukraine's territory is filled with US and British military bases and secret bio-laboratories, as the US delivers hundreds of Javelin [anti-tank] systems, and as it establishes comprehensive military cooperation the likes of which even many Nato members do not enjoy. At the same time, Russia is obliged to provide Ukraine with stable supplies of gas, coal and everything else. Because if it doesn't this will be considered militaristic blackmail using energy sources. Should Ukraine join Nato, Moscow should welcome the move, or at least keep quiet about it. That would be good, decent and 'non-threatening' behaviour.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

No return to Cold War spheres of influence

It will be a step backwards if Biden and Putin start making decisions about Ukraine without consulting Kyiv, Eesti Päevaleht points out:

“Putin has manoeuvred Russia back to the Soviet era, when Soviet and US leaders decided the affairs of the world amongst themselves. No, Russia should not have a veto over whether Ukraine (or any other country) is allowed to cooperate with or join Nato. Unfortunately, the current Ukrainian leadership also seems to be failing to live up to Western standards of governance. This does not mean, however, that the Cold War spheres of influence should be re-established.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

World order at stake here

Whatever Biden does or doesn't do in this matter also has consequences for China and Taiwan, the Tagesspiegel points out:

“If the US tolerates a relatively weak Russia forcing sovereign Ukraine under its control, China, which is far stronger, is likely to take it as a signal that it can occupy Taiwan without having to fear serious consequences. So the video summit is about nothing less than the future world order. ... Putin wants to return to the world of Yalta: political control extending as far as the Kremlin's armies can go.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Moscow has nothing to offer

Putin is not a reliable partner, Tageblatt writes:

“What long-term security guarantees can he offer Ukraine, for example, if it is to renounce any future membership of the North Atlantic Alliance? That the Russian Federation will respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity? Moscow made this promise to Ukraine when it signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, when Kiev, then the third largest nuclear power, ceded its entire nuclear arsenal to Russia in return. But with the annexation of Crimea and support for the rebels in the Donbass, Putin, has proven to be an unreliable treaty partner. As a result, he has nothing worthwhile to offer.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

A stress test for the major powers

There are no compelling reasons for escalation on either side, foreign policy expert Georgi Asatryan comments in Vedomosti:

“The Ukrainian question has no fundamental significance for the US. And for Russia, the antagonisms with Ukraine are not insurmountable as long as no major world power gives Kyiv its backing. The current tensions are testing the capacity for restraint of the great military powers. In other words, the will not to use force where it is not necessary. Will Russia be able to refrain from taking its policy of 'tension' too far? Will the US succeed in keeping its less rational and more narrow-minded allies under control?”