US hopes to agree that ambassadors can return to Moscow and Washington at Biden-Putin summit
June 10, 2021 at 16:02
Their departures signaled a new low point in an already tense relationship, and their return appears to be the only modest deliverable that the Biden administration is eyeing out of the high-stakes summit.
The aspiration comes as the Biden administration has tempered expectations that the US and Russia would come away from the meeting with any groundbreaking agreements.
"We don't think of US-Russia summits in terms of deliverables," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters this week.
"We are thinking of it as an opportunity to communicate what our intentions and capabilities are."
The US and Russia have engaged in tit-for-tat diplomacy which has shrunk the diplomatic footprint in each country dating back to the 1980s.
Sullivan briefed members of Congress in recent weeks about the status of the US diplomatic presence in Russia.
The Biden administration has appointed a number of Russia with significant experience as foreign service officers -- including stints in Moscow -- to powerful posts, demonstrating just how important it is to develop that expertise.
Russian officials are known for being opaque and speaking in riddles, which is a challenge to understand for those without expertise.
This is one reason the Biden administration is seeking to rebuild a more steady and regular US-Russia diplomatic relationship, the officials said.
By holding the summit the Biden administration is signaling a desire to keep open communication, from the top down.
"We know the US-Russia relationship is a difficult relationship and it will remain very difficult.
"Embassies without ambassadors and diplomats increase the likelihood that the US-Russia relationship will continue to slide toward crisis."