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The United States (U.S) and Russia have been considered long adversaries. They were the leaders in the Cold War between the West and East and have fiercely competed against each other in the race to space. That competitive and adversarial relationship still exists and flashes of it are seen in the cybersecurity warfare, Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S 2016 presidential election and the recent cybersecurity attacks on America departments of government and businesses.
The U.S in response to Russia’s behaviour has imposed sanctions and has had testy relations. The testiness also includes allegations of human rights abuses in Russia, the government cracking down on dissent, and the poisoning of Alexei Anatolievich Navalny, Opposition Leader and fierce critic of the Vladimir Putin government. Russia on the other hand continues to deny involvement in acts to undermine America’s democracy, government, business and security.
Thus, last Thursday, June 17, when U.S President Joe Biden met with Putin it attracted much global attention. It was a meeting predated by days of speculations, analyses and built as “high-stakes”. Prior to the meeting Biden in no uncertain terms made known that a meeting with Putin is not about trusting him but about America’s self-interest and verification.
The Thursday’s meeting addressed common areas to both U.S and Russian and what collaboratively the two countries could work on, such a cyberattacks and the treaty limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons, even though both countries have diametrically opposed views on human rights practices, etc. At the end of that summit both Biden and Putin billed the meeting as “constructive.”
Time will tell if anything meaningful will result from the summit or as Biden said “You know, as that old expression goes, ‘The proof of the pudding is in eating it.’ We’re gonna know shortly.” One of the most important things from the summit is that both Biden and Putin met, were able to break the proverbial ice and commenced engagement. The world could only hope for improved working relations between the two countries given their power and influence in the world to conflict, peace and Climate Change.
Guyanese could also learn lessons from the summit. In that the two presidents, though having strained relations and having said things about the other neither liked, they were able to put that aside. If in Guyana the two political sides and leaders could only act likewise, Guyanese could too dare to hope a meeting between President Irfaan Ali and Leader of the opposition Joe Harmon could bring about some constructive arrangement of mutual interests to both sides. This is imperative for Guyana to deal with the mountainous problems and rising tension among groups.
There are problems associated with the national flooding disaster, people are suffering losses and are feeling hopelessness. The pandemic continues to rage affecting people, regardless of which political party they are from or whether they are high- or low-profile members of society. Cost of living is rising, power outages are frequent, oil and gas concerns, high unemployment remaining a bugbear, and so many other issues that necessitate political collaboration. An Ali/Harmon summit (meeting) would be able to talk about these issues., among others, and give them priority treatment.