What does Biden mean for Russia?

What does Biden mean for Russia?

Former US Vice President and incumbent Democratic candidate, Joe Biden delivers a statement on the results of talks with his Ukrainian president in Kiev on December 7, 2015.

Sergey Supinsky | Agence France-Presse | Getty Images

Despite some draconian sanctions and even tougher criticism, Russia has not been the top American foreign policy priority under President Donald Trump, who appeared to have a good relationship with his counterpart Vladimir Putin.

However, all this could change if Democratic candidate Joe Biden wins the November 3 elections, according to experts, who are studying the implications of the Biden presidency for US-Russian relations.

At the very least, analysts expect Biden’s victory to increase tensions between Washington and Moscow, and increase the likelihood of new sanctions against Russia.

The country is already operating under international sanctions on some key sectors and Russian officials close to Putin, due to measures that include annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, meddling in the US elections in 2016, and reporting its involvement in a nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom in 2018.

Mutual distrust

Andreas Torsa, Central and Eastern Europe advisor at Teneo Intelligence, said Biden’s victory would improve transatlantic relations between the United States and Europe and would see “a renewed American commitment to NATO” that is welcomed by Europe.

But he also said such an outcome would mean “mostly negatives for Russia,” citing a recent history of mutual distrust and strained relations between the Kremlin and US Democrats.

“In general, a potential Biden presidency would be negative for Moscow and would likely lead to a further deterioration in bilateral relations, both rhetoric and substance. The Democratic Party candidate has long maintained a tough stance toward President Vladimir Putin’s administration,” he said in Friday note.

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US President Donald Trump (right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) on the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s contempt for Biden is due to his deputy, particularly his quest to impose sanctions on Russia in response to the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

A real solution to the dispute over Crimea and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine (where there are two pro-Russian regions that have declared themselves republics) remains far from Moscow and Kiev, despite efforts by Germany and France to broker a permanent settlement that the parties can undertake. Live with.

Tursa argued that without a concrete process of resolving the conflict in the Donbas and Crimea – an area in which Biden was heavily involved as vice president – “Moscow could not expect any meaningful sanctions relief,” and that a potential Biden presidency could lead to stricter enforcement Current measures.

He said the risk of new sanctions could also increase, given allegations of Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.

Mutual interest

It is unlikely that any new sanctions will be imposed on Russia right away, according to Timothy Ash, chief emerging market analyst at Bluebay Asset Management.

He said on Saturday that “while I believe that the course of US-Russian relations will continue on this deteriorating path, I am not sure that we should expect the immediate application of additional” pent-up “sanctions against Russia.

“I think that those candidates who are likely to run Russia’s affairs in Biden’s presidency all have great experience and good-level presidents. They will not want to impose sanctions for the sake of sanctions. They will want to take a very rational and proportionate approach.” To have a commercial relationship with Russia to ensure that the strategic interests of the United States are fulfilled. “

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He said that the two sides, under Biden’s presidency, would have to “find out where they could tolerate each other and align with some areas of common interest – such as arms control – and reduce conflict risks where strategic interests compete, for example regions like Ukraine, and even Belarus.” Turkey. Sanctions will be part of the toolkit here, but it is only one tool. “

A new beginning

Arms control is an area that both Russia watchers believe could be a point of mutual interest and some harmony. Biden has made the point, saying in 2019 that he wants to see an extension of the major nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia, known as the New Treaty on Strategic Arms Reduction, or something similar.

“Based on recent statements from both sides, negotiations on a new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) is one of the areas in which progress can be expected if Biden is elected,” Tursa said. “However, the schedule will be very difficult as the current treaty expires on February 5, 2021.”

Russia itself has recognized that arms control could be a positive dynamic under the Biden presidency. Earlier in October, Putin criticized what he called “tough anti-Russian rhetoric” from Biden, but also said that Biden’s comments on a new arms treaty or extension of the New START treaty encouraged him.

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