- When Biden and Putin meet for their summit in Switzerland, the image contrast between the presidents could hardly be greater.
- The American once described Putin as a “killer”, while in Russia Biden is ridiculed as “sleepy Joe”. His predecessor Trump has already miscalculated.
The two men are united by their gigantic abundance of power, they also have in common that they can order atomic strikes – and both like ice cream. The appearance of the presidents, who meet on Wednesday at Villa La Grange on Lake Geneva, could hardly be more different.
Here the American Joe Biden (78), who occasionally reminds of the proverbial nice grandfather with his habitus. There his Russian opponent Vladimir Putin, who is ten years his junior and who portrays himself as a tough macho, gladly with a bare upper body.
At their summit, both want to try to avert an escalation of the confrontation between the two largest nuclear powers.
Biden is Putin’s fifth US president
Biden was sworn in less than 150 days ago; Putin has been in power for more than 21 years. The new president in the White House is now the fifth US president to meet with Putin – the first was Bill Clinton in November 1999.
His successor, George W. Bush, developed a surprisingly warm relationship with Putin. “He is a man who is very committed to his country and the best interests of his country,” said Bush after a summit meeting in 2001. “I looked the man in the eye. I found him very straightforward and trustworthy, and we did had a very good conversation. I was able to get an impression of his soul. “
Obama denounced Russia as a “regional power”
The relationship became much cooler after Bush’s successor Barack Obama took office. Putin has never forgotten that the president of the last remaining superpower dismissed proud Russia as a “regional power” in 2014.
After Obama came the wild years under Donald Trump. “I like Putin, he likes me,” Trump said last year. The Kremlin chief praised Trump as a colorful personality.
The joint press conference in Helsinki almost three years ago, at which Trump questioned the findings of his own intelligence services on Russian interference in US elections, is still memorable today.
The performance couldn’t have gone better for Putin. This is probably one of the reasons why the US side prefers to forego a joint press meeting this time. Russia’s state media are celebrating this as Putin’s first victory on points.
Biden’s early distrust of Putin
Interference in US elections and many other issues are said to be the subject of Biden’s summit with Putin. Biden has been a professional politician since he entered the US Senate in 1973, when Putin had not even started his career as a KGB officer.
Even in the early years of Putin’s presidency, Biden was skeptical. As chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Senate, he said after Bush’s warm words about the Russian: “I don’t trust Putin.”
In an interview three months ago, Biden then denied Putin even having a soul – and he agreed to the statement that the Kremlin chief was a “killer”. The US news site “Politico” recently wrote: “Biden didn’t like Putin before that was cool.”
The presidents and the private
The fact that opposites attract does not seem to apply in this case. The contrast is also evident when it comes to the family. Putin has been officially single since separating from his wife Ludmila in 2013. The ex-chief of the secret service hardly talks about family and other private matters, at most he lets it be known that nobody should worry about his or her well-being.
Biden, on the other hand, keeps telling openly about his family history, which has also been marked by severe blows of fate. When performing with First Lady Jill Biden, he is the charmer.
The broadcaster CNN reported that Biden also had a strict telephone rule: when the grandchildren call, he always answers. Biden even knows what his favorite type of ice cream is (chocolate chip). Putin is also considered an ice cream lover – Russian ice cream is so popular that China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping regularly receives presents from the Russian.
The “Sleepy Joe” and “Putin’s Puppy”
Russia’s state media prefer to show Biden with slips of the tongue or stumbling, and they adopt Trump’s characterization of his democratic adversary as “sleepy Joe”.
The Kremlin propagandist Dmitri Kisselev says that Biden tries to be energetic in a clumsy way, but rather arouses pity. Everyone just wanted to wish him good health. “The Russian President, on the other hand, behaves as honestly as possible, speaks clearly and distinctly. A contrast!”
Kisselev could underestimate Biden – as Trump did in the election campaign. The Republican has not survived his defeat against Biden to this day. Shortly before the summit in Geneva, Trump spoke to supporters by e-mail, scoffing: “Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin – do not fall asleep during the meeting and please give him my warmest greetings! “
Hard to expect that Biden will comply. Even before the election, he had announced a tougher course against Putin – and called Trump a “Putin’s puppy”. (jwo / dpa)
Before his summit with Vladimir Putin, the former US President Donald Trump gave his successor Joe Biden greetings for the Kremlin chief in a mocking message.