Mr. Biden’s statements will no doubt play well in the U.S. media for a short time, but the visual of Mr. Putin shaking hands with Mr. Biden will probably be replayed ad nauseam on Russia’s state media for weeks and months, particularly in advance of September parliamentary elections.
The clear problem here is that Russia is coming away with a public relations win while the U.S. has little to show from the summit in terms of tangible improvements to national security. Mr. Putin has once again been elevated to the world stage in a face-off against the world’s pre-eminent superpower in a well-rehearsed and tiresome script that burnishes his credentials as a world leader.
The Biden administration’s short-term objective of using the summit to de-escalate some tensions, like the buildup along the Russia-Ukraine border, ending the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, and forestalling the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny made a summit a good tactical play. But this one-off summit has done little to advance the long-term strategic objectives of containing Russia’s growing aggression and interference in the domestic affairs of Western democracies.