A noted adviser to President Joe Biden’s summit with Vladimir Putin, Fiona Hill called the mere meeting a “very important win for Putin.”
“Well, in terms of the symbolism of having a sit-down with the American president, absolutely that is a very important win for Putin,” Hill told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Hill, who testified for House Democrats in the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, claimed Putin, merely being able to “push all of our political buttons, make fun of us, humiliate us” is a plus for the Russian leader.
“The problem with the previous administration, with President Trump, for Vladimir Putin is fantastic meetings from his perspective,” Hill told host Chuck Todd. “He was able to push all of our political buttons, make fun of us, humiliate us, always have sit-downs that he wanted to, or telephone calls. But he never got any kinds of agreements. And so that really, you know, wasn’t all that worthwhile. So he has to get something out of this as well, something more than just the meeting in Geneva.”
Just getting the meeting give Putin political gravitas in his country, but where Putin goes from here is still undetermined, Hill added.
“It’s not a win if nothing happens after this,” Hill said. “That is just an episodic event. And, you know, he can’t take that to the bank for a long time and cash it in. He’s got to basically present himself at home as the great statesman because he, himself, has to subject his presidency to a reelection.
“I mean, we keep hearing he’s going to stay out until 2036. But in 2024, he’s got to have elections as well. He’s got to show he’s still popular. And in the meantime, coming up, there are parliamentary elections for the Russian Duma. You know, so basically the ruling party, United Russia, also has to subject itself for reelection. And they’re not looking very popular.”
Putin also had domestic uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic response and vaccination difficulties, Hill added.
“He’s only got about 10% of the population vaccinated,” Hill continued. “He spent all of this time being an anti-vaxxer, talking down on the vaccines, including AstraZeneca and Pfizer and Moderna. And now Russians don’t want to have shots in their arms either. So Putin’s got to figure out how to navigate things.
“And he can’t just basically live off an episodic meeting with the United States president in Geneva for months to come. So he’s got to show something out of it.”
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