News Release

A Biden-Putin Summit?

JACK MATLOCK, matlock@ias.edu
Former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Matlock is available for a limited number of interviews. He wrote last month: “The United States will not be able to deal successfully with the most important challenges facing it unless it can work in tandem with other large countries to manage threats that are global in nature: nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming and ever more destructive technologies if used in warfare. The same, of course, can be said of Russia.”

Matlock, who served as the top American envoy in Moscow from 1987 to 1991, added: “Both the United States and Russia are wrestling with serious problems at home. Only Americans can solve theirs and only Russian citizens can solve theirs. It does not help either country for outsiders to take sides in the other’s disputes. Nevertheless, the life-threatening dangers, the truly existential dangers, face both countries equally — as they do the rest of the world. Presidents Biden and Putin now have the opportunity to find ways to cooperate in dealing with global threats, and encouraging others to do so as well.”

Matlock is quoted in a new piece published by Salon by Norman Solomon, Institute for Public Accuracy’s executive director: “Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin urgently need to hold a summit meeting — and soon.”

He writes: “Last week’s outbreak of rhetorical hostilities between the White House and the Kremlin has heightened the urgent need for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. The spate of mutual denunciations is catnip for mass media and fuel for hardliners in both countries. But for the world at large, under the doomsday shadow of nuclear arsenals brandished by the United States and Russia, the latest developments are terribly ominous.

“Whatever you think of Biden’s assertion during an ABC News interview that Russia’s President Putin is ‘a killer’ — and whether or not you think the label might apply to Biden, given his pro-war record — the existential imperative of U.S.-Russian relations is to avert a nuclear war. Biden’s claim during the same interview that Putin does not have ‘a soul’ indicates that much of the new president’s foreign-policy thinking is stuck in a Cold War rut. …

“Let’s face it: Biden is playing to the domestic anti-Russia gallery in the U.S. media and ‘defense’ establishment, while making a dangerous mockery of his own claims to be a champion of diplomatic approaches to foreign affairs. …

“If the leaders of the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads can’t have a summit meeting and talk with each other, we’re in trouble. Real trouble.”