RAND Experts Discuss the Upcoming Biden-Putin Summit
June 10, 2021
In this Call with the Experts podcast, Jeffrey Hiday, director of Media Relations at RAND, is joined by RAND experts Samuel Charap, Senior Political Scientist, Todd Helmus, Senior Behavioral Scientist, Dara Massicot, Senior Policy Researcher, and William Courtney, Adjunct Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum. Together they discuss the June 16th summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This call was recorded on June 10, 2021.
The summit represents a chance to rebuild and review the fraught relationship between with U.S. and Russia. Topics likely to arise include tensions over Ukraine, cyberattacks, regional stability issues, treatment of political opponents, and economic sanctions, as well as areas for potential cooperation such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Middle East.
Russia seeks to influence global policy through arms sales, the use of private military contractors, political interventions, social media and disinformation campaigns, and military force. A RAND project examines the workings of these levers of influence.
In response to recent Russian cyber espionage, interference in U.S. elections, and the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Biden announced a new round of sanctions and expulsions of Russian officials. But will these sanctions hurt Russia's defense industry enough to curb the Kremlin's behavior?
In the run-up to a summit between the United States and Russia, is there an opportunity to revisit core assumptions, and expand the scope for statecraft in U.S. Russia policy?
Prolonging Alexei Navalny's imprisonment, attempting to murder him—or actually succeeding—would only galvanize his supporters. And releasing him could be viewed as a victory for the opposition, making the Kremlin look weak.