Finnish experts critical of potential Putin-Biden summit

Finnish foreign policy specialists are critical of a possible summit between the presidents of Russia and the United States, as they note the dangers of European issues being discussed only between the two former Cold War adversaries.

The BBC is among many media outlets reporting on Monday morning that Russian premier Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden have tentatively agreed “in principle” to hold a summit, as suggested by French President Emmanuel Macron.

However, the White House said that the talks would only go ahead if Russia does not invade Ukraine.

Speaking on Yle TV1’s breakfast show on Monday, University of Helsinki researcher Timo Miettinen stressed the importance of maintaining diplomacy and dialogue, but was critical of the way world leaders conducted the talks.

“The question is whether such a tactic is the right way from the perspective of Europe and the United States, with which Russia can advance its goals,” Miettinen said.

He also asked what role the United States had to play in relation to European safety and security strategies.

“From a European perspective, it is a little worrying if a solution is always to be sought through the United States and not through European leaders,” he added.

Politics prof: Talks “indirectly strengthen US hegemony”

Heikki Patomäki, a professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki, was also in the studio on Monday morning, and noted that Russia seems to be seeking direct negotiations with the United States.

He added that such a move bypasses the European Union and local operators, and indirectly strengthens the US’s hegemonic position.

“One of Russia’s goals is to move towards a more polarised world. There is a certain paradox in this, however, that the United States is seen as the most important country to negotiate directly with,” Patomäki said.

However, he also noted the importance of powerful global leaders meeting face-to-face.

“Diplomacy is always concentrated around people meeting each other, looking into each other’s eyes and recognising each other as people,” Patomäki said, adding that diplomacy played a key role in the ending of the Cold War.

“Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sat together by the fireplace and found a warm atmosphere, paving the way for many far-reaching agreements, including in negotiations on controlling arms,” he said.

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