May 30, 2021 / 23:05

Breakthrough impossible

Only by overcoming their bilateral disputes, Russia and the US could reach some breakthrough in the direction towards normalization and improvement of their relationships.

The news has been expected for a quite long time but is still a little bit spectacular: US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will encounter in Switzerland's Geneva on June 16 on the conclusion of Biden's first foreign trip since assuming office as the 46th US President succeeding Donald Trump and right after his attendances at this year's annual summit of G7 in London (Britain) and of NATO in Brussels (Belgium) as well as his meeting with EU leadership also in Brussels. 

 This photo was taken when Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Joe Biden as the US Vice President. Photo: AFP/VNA

In the past, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin had met many times with each other but in Geneva next will be their first one as heads of state. 

The relation between the US and Russia is now at their unprecedented low and therefore expectations are high that the first US - Russian summit with Biden and Putin would facilitate the return of this relationship to normalization and improvement and further deteriorations would be stopped. 

Some days ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with each other in Iceland's capital Reykjavik. Their talk brought no notable results but the knowledge that they disagreed where they have had disagreed until now and reached consensus only on issues where Russia and the US have to cooperate with each other. 

The same result would most possibly be for the coming encounter between Biden and Putin in Geneva. They will certainly find common interests and approach to deal with dossiers like nuclear disarmament, fighting against climate change and coronavirus pandemic, Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs, maybe airspace or arktis. 

But they will continue to be on the two sides of one front in issues like Ukraine and China, human rights, democracy and rules of law, Belarus, Afghanistan, Syria, NATO, Nord Stream 2, and cyber-attacks.

The gap between them in these issues is too big to be quickly and easily over-bridged, the interest conflicts are still too fundamental. Only by overcoming their bilateral disputes, Russia and the US could reach some breakthroughs in the direction towards normalization and improvement of their relationships. 

Despite that fact, the coming US - Russia event in Geneva happens because both sides are aware of the need of preserving real possibilities to work with each other when and on issues, they can't afford to cooperate with each other and because they have to try to find out ways and means, approach and mechanism to deal with each other under circumstances that all or most of their now existing bilateral disputes and interest conflicts remain. 

Therefore, no breakthrough in Geneva doesn't imply anything. This event is positive and encouraging.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are of his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hanoitimes.

TAG: US Russia