U.S. President Joe Biden's sweeping European tour is being portrayed in American media under the label "the U.S. is back."
This label, which involves re-establishing the "Atlantic Alliance," sums up Biden's foreign policy doctrine. Biden sees the “G-7” and “NATO” summits as grounds for mending relations with European allies that have been eroded during the Trump era.
In the background of Biden's European trip, there is a new bloc policy to counter China and Russia. However, it doesn't seem like it’s going to be a walk in the park for Biden. Since the end of the "Cold War" in the early 1990s, the warm relationship between the U.S. and Western Europe began to cool. Ties were at their worst during the Trump’s tenure. On his first overseas trip, Biden will also be assessing how much damage Trump has done to relations with U.S. allies.
In Europe, skepticism towards the U.S. is prevalent. The deep political-cultural polarization in the country, coupled with the deterioration of foreign policy agreements supported by the mainstream wings of the two parties, as well as the possibility of Trump or a Trump-like Republican being elected president in 2024 are among the factors that deepen Euro-skepticism. In many countries of the world, the U.S. is no longer seen as a "reliable ally". There is no guarantee that Biden will be elected President a second time. On the other hand, Putin can stay in power until 2036, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping can stay in office for life.
Biden's upcoming meeting with Putin will also by closely watched as European leaders are seeking to measure how they must evaluate U.S. policies against Russia and China. It is known that the two key members of the European Union, Germany and France, are not very keen on confronting China.
Just before his European tour, Biden waived sanctions against companies that participated in the construction of the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. These sanctions were introduced during the Trump era. Biden was also strongly opposed to the project. However, the pipeline has been completed and Putin has announced that it is ready for operation. Biden's rolling back of sanctions is seen as a concession to Germany, the powerhouse of the European Union. For anti-Russian hawks, the Baltic Pipeline is considered a tool that is part of Putin's policy aimed at dividing NATO.
Russian gas was pumped to Europe via Ukraine. The Baltic Pipeline, known as "Nord Stream-2", greatly weakened this leverage that Ukraine has against Russia. Even more interestingly, the President of Ukraine, Vlodomyr Zelenskiy, who expected a lot from the United States, learned of the decision to roll back sanction from the press. Seemingly shocked and dismayed, Zelenskiy said that Biden's waiver of sanctions weakened Ukrainian trust in the United States.
Biden made Germany happy by throwing Ukraine under the bus. It should be noted that the White House has also stayed mum on advancing Ukraine's NATO membership action plan. Depending on how his meeting with Putin will go, Biden is expected to make statements about Ukraine.
Biden's Russian policy is marked by his distrust of Putin. Trump wanted to establish warm relations with Russia. Anti-Russia hawks on the Democratic and Republican center wings were able to hinder Trump. However, Biden's distrust of Putin dates back to the early 2000s.
The first summit between then-U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Putin was held in Slovenia on 16 June 2001, where he said of Putin, "I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."
Biden, who was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, said that he did not trust Putin and did not see into his soul. Biden stated that he relayed that impression to Putin's face, and Putin smilingly said, "We understand each other."
An important article about how Biden views Russia was published in 2018 in Foreign Affairs magazine. The article outlined the common feelings of anti-Russian American hawks. The authors of the piece titled “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin. Defending Democracy Against Its Enemies " were Joe Biden and Michael Carpenter.
This article penned by Biden, who did not hesitate to use the term "murderer" to describe Putin, was also very harsh. Therefore, no one is getting their hopes up with regards to the upcoming Biden-Putin Summit.