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From Trump to Biden, change of register against Putin

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The Trump mandate was made of procrastination, even surprising moments of complicity with Vladimir Putin. The Biden mandate begins on a completely different register against Russia, much stronger. “I clearly said to President Putin, in a very different way from my predecessor, that the time when the United States submitted to the aggressive acts of Russia (…) was over,” said the president on Thursday. Democrat from the State Department.

Anxious to mark the contrast, the new tenant of the White House knows that he is playing on this ground on velvet: his predecessor’s ambiguous attitude vis-à-vis the Kremlin’s strongman had bristled all the American political class, including Republicans. Donald Trump’s extraordinarily conciliatory tone at the Helsinki summit in July 2018 sparked an outcry within his own camp. In a bizarre press conference, which will go down as one of his presidency’s most controversial moments, he seemed to place more weight on the wormer KGB strongman’s words than on the unanimous conclusions the intelligence agencies. American on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Only two weeks after coming to power, Joe Biden wanted to signify the beginning of a chapter with a radically different tone. If he claimed the extension of the US-Russian disarmament agreement, “New Start,” “the last treaty between the two countries,” in the name of “nuclear stability,” he has not to mince words against the Kremlin. The United States must “be there in the face of the advance of authoritarianism,” said Biden, referring to “Russia’s desire to weaken our democracy.”

Citing interference in the American elections, cyber-attacks, or even “the poisoning of its citizens,” about the opponent Alexeï Navalny, he did not announce concrete measures but multiplied the warnings. “We will not hesitate to make Russia pay a higher cost and to defend our interests,” he insisted. “And we will be more effective against Russia if we work in coalition with our partners,” he added.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! ”
“Russia, Russia, Russia! “, Exclaimed Donald Trump regularly, exasperated by the recurring questions about his surprising and erratic behavior vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin.

If the special prosecutor Robert Mueller has not, at the end of his investigation, gathered “evidence” of an agreement between Moscow and the campaign team of the Republican, the interference of Moscow in the 2016 presidential election has poisoned his entire mandate. Donald Trump’s behavior at major international meetings, where he never hesitated to exhaust America’s allies, also fueled criticism. At the G20 summit in Osaka in 2019, he displayed a form of complicity with Vladimir Putin by joking about Russian interference in the elections and fake news.

Questioned to know if he intended to ask Russia not to interfere in the next presidential election of 2020 – in which he was then officially a candidate – he turned, amused, to his Russian counterpart. “No interference in the elections, president. No interference, ”he said with a smile, pretending to lecture him, index finger outstretched. After having the words translated, the latter smiled. The exchange did not, far from it, help dispel the unease surrounding the relationship between the president of the world’s largest power and the one who has ruled Russia with an iron fist for more than 20 years. After the controversial Helsinki summit, Donald Trump persisted and signed by inviting the Russian president to the White House before finally changing his mind in the face of the discomfort of the Republican camp. No face-to-face between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is planned at this stage.

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