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With Biden Set to Meet Putin, Russia Takes Another Step Toward Dictatorship

Step by step, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is establishing a virtual dictatorship in Russia by crushing all viable opposition. This week, a Russian court designated Aleksei A. Navalny’s political organization as an extremist group. Under the law, Navalny’s organizers, donors, and social-media supporters could be prosecuted and face prison sentences. The designation also bars the group from running parliamentary candidates this Fall in an attempt to silence Putin's most effective critics and allow the Russian President to serve for another decade or more.

NPR: "The September vote is widely seen as an important part of Putin's efforts to cement his rule ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The 68-year-old leader, who has been in power for more than two decades, pushed through constitutional changes last year that would potentially allow him to hold onto power until 2036."

The move appears to be the Russian President's plan "B", after failing to kill Navalny last year. The assassination attempt backfired; Navalny became a hero across Russia and Putin faced international condemnation and additional economic sanctions. Putin, however, looks increasingly impervious to outside pressure and that will present a challenge for US President Joe Biden next week when the two leaders meet in Geneva.

Biden understands that Putin no longer cares about the West's outrage over his dictatorial, even murderous, tendencies. But, unlike Venezuela or Myanmar, the West can't simply sanction and ignore Russia. It has to deal with Putin because of Russia's nuclear stockpile, military capabilities, energy reserves, and influence in places like Eastern Europe and the Middle East. So, US President Joe Biden has included a meeting with Putin as part of his first trip abroad.

No one expects any major breakthroughs, but Biden has a plan to reset the relationship and he has two overarching points for Putin.

1. While America under Donald Trump didn't make much of an effort to change Putin's domestic policies or deter Russian cybercrimes and foreign adventurism, Biden will work closely with US allies to ratchet up the economic pain on Putin and his friends in Russia.

2. At the same time, Biden will try to create a framework for a ongoing dialog on important bilateral and multilateral issues like arms control, the climate, Ukraine, and the future of Syria.

It will be a tricky balance to achieve. And, its success will depend a great deal on whether Biden can restore our relations with our European allies.

Time: "Taking a page from America’s successful decades-long strategy against the Soviet Union, Biden is planning to rally allies at the G-7 summit in the U.K. and at the NATO confab in Belgium to present a united front against Moscow."

#news #Russia

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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