The June 2021 Russia-U.S. summit: structuring of confrontation or setting groundwork for the future?

Bubnova N.I.


The U.S.–Russia Geneva Summit took place on 16 June 2021 against the background of perhaps the worst relations since the two countries’ first détente of 1970s. A new reset is not to be expected. Yet the courteous atmosphere which prevailed during the Summit helped establish a platform and set the agenda for future interactions. The article seeks to identify the implications and long-term consequences of the meeting. Though its details are unknown except to its direct participants and their respective staff, and many questions still remained after the two presidents’ respective press conferences, the Summit’s outcomes seemed to extend beyond shear stabilization of confrontation. Tellingly, bilateral consultations on strategic stability and arms control began soon after the meeting. Putin and Biden also touched base on quite a few issues of contention, which included (yet were not limited to) European security and the fight against terrorism, normalization of the operations of the two countries’ respective Embassies and consular services, preventing human rights violations, lifting sanctions versus resolving the issue of cyberattacks, reaching settlement in Ukraine and implementing Minsk Agreements, improving situation in Belarus, ensuring deconfliction and political process in Syria, preventing militarization of the Arctic Region, and last but not the least, dealing with the risks ensuing from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. As for the Summit’s practical consequences, time will show whether the two sides will be able to achieve progress along the set lines. Meanwhile, there have been some early signs of improvement alongside multiple setbacks – which are analyzed in the piece.


Putin; Biden; U.S.-Russia relations; strategic stability; arms control; sanctions; terrorism; Syria; Afghanistan.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2021.04.03

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