The most positive expectations from the upcoming Russia-US summit are associated with the fact that neither side is approaching it from the position of maintaining peace and improving relations at any cost. Unlike a number of contacts of this level in the past, now Moscow and Washington are not ready, and do not seek, to compromise their principles in order to make their own lives more calm and comfortable, and those around them - more confident in their future. The maximum diplomatic achievements of the summit (one can expect, for example, the return of the ambassadors to both countries) will not change the nature of the relationship. However, it is precisely the principled approach of each power that gives grounds for some optimism about the future. The confidence of Moscow and Washington in the legitimacy of their own interests and values can serve as a better foundation for peace than simply the desire to achieve it.
The summit between Russia and the United States is an event that equally reflects the central importance of these powers in world affairs and enters into dissonance with the international order that formed after the end of the unconditional leadership of the West. At the same time, the very need for such a meeting and attention to it confirm the special nature of relations between Russia and the United States, as the most militarily powerful states in the world and, at the same time, indicates they are ready to use the opportunities that such power provides. Within the framework of the personal historical experience of decision-makers in Moscow and Washington, as well as representatives of the expert community, such meetings have often had a breakthrough significance for bilateral relations. This is probably why now the calls not to approach the summit with high expectations look even more than insistent.
It is necessary to highlight the caveat that a relatively well-prepared meeting of the presidents of Russia and the United States is, of course, a positive event from the point of view of a peaceful transformation of the international order. In recent years, both powers have done enough to make the conflict between them a cause for concern throughout the rest of the world. The leading role was played by the United States, since it still has formidable, albeit decreasing, power resources.
Over the past 35 years, the main content of the summits was first the terms of surrender on the part of the USSR during the Cold War, and later - a discussion of what Russia can get in exchange for agreeing to bear with American policy for some time.
It is precisely the military-strategic importance of relations between Russia and the United States that remains the only reason why they are still important on a global scale. All other issues of modern development can no longer be, and are not being, resolved within the framework of the "deal" between the two nuclear superpowers. The same applies to numerous regional conflicts where Moscow and Washington are directly or indirectly involved. All of them, without exception, include the interests and capabilities of a significant number of regional players, and it would be naive to expect a solution at the level of only these two countries.
Therefore, the main expectations from the summit are associated with the fact that the leaders of Russia and the United States are, in principle, ready to reaffirm their special responsibility for peace on a global scale. Everything else, even if Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden can agree, will not be of decisive importance in the strategic sense. Although, of course, everyone in the world will welcome the decision, for example, to return to more or less stable diplomatic relations.
The fact that the special responsibility of Russia and the United States in the military sphere continues to occupy the central place in the modern international order is one of the most invariable factors in world politics. In fact, it is properly on this that the order is based, and the exceptional military capabilities of the two countries since the middle of the last century are more important than any institutional invention. Therefore, from the point of view of power politics, the summit in Geneva is indeed of the greatest importance among all the events of 2021, known to us. Even if the summit does not change anything in the hostile relationship between the two powers, to which everyone has already begun to get used to.
The very fact that the significance of the Russia-US summit far exceeds its role in bilateral relations shows how the modern international order remains a continuation of the "nuclear world". It was somewhat shaken in the era when Russia was in a state of internal crisis and could not use its unique capabilities as a foreign policy argument. However, after Moscow no longer needed to speak out from a position of weakness, everything returned to normal. Since the mid-2000s, Russia's position toward the actions and decisions of the United States has become increasingly tough, and the likelihood of an all-out war has become tangible.Now we are witnessing a paradoxical picture, in which the actual triumph of a multipolar world, the colossal growth in the importance and influence of China, as well as the many times increased capabilities of individual regional players cannot change the overall strategic situation. Even if we can seriously talk about the likelihood of the emergence of a more or less stable order on a global scale, this is still associated with the extent to which Russia and the United States are able to agree on its conditions. This is, of course, very bad news for the concept of multipolarity and in general for all discussions about the significance of non-military factors of power. If this is the case, then it becomes rather difficult for us to look for governance in the foundations of the new international order and the sources of its legitimacy.