by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden’s team has committed “a cascade of errors” in the lead-up to his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the top Polish diplomat, who complained that Warsaw only learned “from the media” that the U.S. would waive sanctions on a major Russian pipeline project.
“Our American allies did not find time to consult with the region most exposed to the consequences of that decision,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said Friday.
Rau was critical of Biden’s relationship with Central and Eastern European allies, just as the new administration hopes to make a show of transatlantic unity following former President Donald Trump’s tempestuous tenure on Biden’s first trip abroad. Yet, the Putin encounter looming at the end of that diplomatic tour casts a shadow over the alliance, as Biden’s outreach to the western European capitals that clashed most with Trump involves policy concessions that alarm the allies who endured the tyranny of the Soviet Union.
“American-Russian-German dialogue is no substitute for consultations between America and its allies on NATO’s eastern flank, who will be particularly affected by these decisions,” Rau told Rzeczpospolita, a Polish media outlet. “It is easier for the Americans to talk to the Germans and the French, who won’t ask awkward questions and are willing to give the Americans the nod on Russia.”
Biden’s team has described his meeting with Putin as an attempt to place U.S.-Russia relations on a more “stable and predictable” footing. Rau made clear he has low expectations for the meeting but acknowledged Biden was right to make the effort.
“Putin is no Gorbachev, and Biden is certainly no Reagan,” he said archly. …
… Rau’s public airing of grievances could put a negative charge into the relationship already fraught with political tensions.