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Biden & Putin’s ‘great power’ summit analyzed


  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a summit meeting which the American leader called the meeting of “two great powers”.
  • In a press conference held after the summit, Mr. Putin said they have agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in a bid to lower tensions after Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. was recalled from Washington after Biden described Mr. Putin as a killer.


GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies and Treaties affecting India’s Interests, Important Developments in foreign relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent USA-China Rivalries
  2. India as Counterbalance to China for USA
  3. The Current Development: Western alliance
  4. Russian Distraction amidst Western Alliance against China

Recent USA-China Rivalries:

  • Competition for dominating world finances: To counter the USA-dominated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, China has come out with alternative financial institutions like Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and New Development Bank.
  • Contending influence over international groupings: In order to contain rising China’s assertiveness, the USA under its ‘pivot to Asia policy’ has launched a Quad initiative, Indo pacific narrative. Most recently, the USA proposed to expand G7 to G-11 without including China in it.
  • New Cold War: USA-China confrontation is on multiple fronts including ideological and cultural hegemonic rivalry, trade wars which has often been called the New Cold War.

India as Counterbalance to China for USA

  • India is a preferred partner on security issues and to cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South Asia and Southeast Asia. To achieve this, USA aims to:
    • Support India’s aspiration to be a leading global power, highlighting its compatibility with the USA, Japanese and Australian vision of the Indo-Pacific.
    • Work with India “toward domestic economic reform”.
    • Enhance defence cooperation and interoperability.
    • Provide greater leadership roles for India in the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus.
    • Support India’s Act East policy.

The Current Development: Western alliance

  • In the past, when American Presidents visited Europe and met NATO allies, Russia had been their main focus. But this time, when Mr. Biden went to Europe, his first foreign trip after becoming the President, the focus was on China – a sign of the emerging shifts in the global power balance. Hence, the American President held a host of talks with separate blocs in Europe — the Group of Seven (G7), NATO and the EU — with a focus on strengthening the western alliance.
  • The G7 industrialised nations — the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan — issued a communique slamming China’s human rights records. Issues such as the detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong, growing tensions with Taiwan and the alleged lack of transparency on Covid-19 were all mentioned in the G7 statement.
  • The 30-member NATO, whose traditional focus has been on Russia, has also issued a statement in which China has been mentioned multiple times. NATO members warned against the “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order” emanating from China’s rise.
  • The U.S. and the 27-member EU have decided to cooperate more on technology, regulation, industrial development and trade in an attempt to help the West compete better with China. They have also decided to set up a high-level trade and technology council, which would boost innovation and investment.

Russian Distraction amidst Western Alliance against China

  • While U.S. is keen on focusing on China, Russia remains a distraction as the ties between the two countries are at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War.
  • There were allegations of Russian cyberattacks and election interference in the U.S., while Moscow is reeling under Western sanctions and seems determined to resist any move by NATO to expand into its backyard.
  • Ukraine remains an unresolved crisis. Earlier this year, Mr. Putin had assembled Russian troops on the Ukraine border in a direct challenge to the U.S.
  • Bilateral relations between the two countries practically collapsed after the U.S. recalled Russian Ambassador from Washington and asked the American Ambassador to return for consultations after Biden described Putin as a killer.
  • It’s too early to see any meaningful change in Russia-U.S. relations. But the recent Geneva summit suggests that policymakers in Washington have at least started thinking of Russia as a secondary challenge that needs to be tackled diplomatically, not only through coercion, if the U.S. wants to take on a rising China.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023