Kremlin: The U.S. has to talk to us sooner or later

Kremlin: The U.S. has to talk to us sooner or later
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

This may be what a Russian effort at “normalization” of relations looks like, anticipating a time when the war in Ukraine is finally over. A Kremlin spokesperson held a press conference yesterday and lamented the “personal insults” that Joe Biden had directed toward Vladimir Putin, saying that such comments would inevitably “leave their mark” on the relationship between the two leaders and our nations. But Dmitry Peskov also told reporters that “sooner or later” there will have to be a conversation about security and stability. That time is obviously not now, however. But at least someone in Moscow is looking at the big picture. (Reuters)

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia and the United States would need to have a dialogue on security sooner or later, but that their relations would inevitably be affected by “personal insults” by U.S. President Joe Biden directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Personal insults cannot but leave their mark on relations between heads of state,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

However, he said: “One way or another, sooner or later, we will have to speak about questions of strategic stability and security and so on.”

Much of the language in the Kremlin statement is nearly identical to portions of the discussion that Biden and Putin had last June. And those talks were still taking place as recently as February 7th of this year, only weeks before the invasion began. To their credit, the Russians have at least been consistent. They were expressing concerns over NATO troops and defensive weapons systems being so close to their borders and were looking for assurances that their own territorial integrity wouldn’t be compromised.

It’s easy to laugh at such a claim in the middle of a war that Putin launched unprovoked on one of his neighbors, and that fact shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s also worth asking ourselves whether this message was coming directly from Putin himself or if Peskov was just winging it in an effort to lower the temperature a bit. Normally, you wouldn’t expect anyone on the Kremlin staff to put out any messaging not directly approved by Putin because such actions tend to lead to severe career consequences or forcible relocation. But these days, it’s tough to know what Putin is thinking. When he shows up at his staged public rallies in support of the invasion, he really does sound like he believes his own hype and thinks he’s completely in the right.

No matter how this ends, however, the current situation between Russia and the west is unsustainable. We’re currently engaged in a state of global economic warfare that is causing casualties to both sides in terms of the economies of most of the developed nations of the world. Treating this as the new normal will lead to some sort of international economic collapse and it will probably happen much sooner than some of us might expect. For more on this, read Michael Schuman’s essay, “The World is Splitting in Two.”

And yet, at the same time, how are we supposed to turn a blind eye and pretend that this entire Ukrainian fiasco never happened? It’s going to be a tough nut to crack, but at least on the surface, I find myself agreeing with the Kremlin on this one. We’re already in a new cold war whether we want to believe that or not. We do need to look toward some way of assuring the mutual security of the major powers on the planet (i.e. America, Russia, China, and NATO). And it’s simply not feasible to leave the superpowers dangling on the precipice of a nuclear war indefinitely.

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