Foreign policy experts divided on whether Putin-Biden summit emboldened China

Top foreign policy expert says Russia has put the U.S. in a 'jam' when it comes to U.S.-China relations.

Some top foreign policy experts have warned that the U.S.-Russia summit may not have only been a perceived win for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but could have actually emboldened China

The White House this week rejected the argument that the U.S. gained little diplomatic or national security advantages following the highly anticipated Geneva summit.

"I just don’t buy the argument which says this was not worth it for the United States," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN. "As President Biden himself said, he did what he came to do and I think America’s come out better for it."

But not all security officials agree, arguing it bolstered the top U.S. adversary instead.

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Former intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and author of the upcoming "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," Rebekah Koffler told Fox News that China is "elated" at how the summit played out. 

"Allowing Putin to berate and discredit us in a solo press conference is quite a mistake for the Biden administration," Koeffler said. "To give them that ability, China comes out on top."

Others argued that though the meeting was necessary, it enabled Putin to boost his public image back home while deflecting allegations of cybercrime attacks that have threatened U.S. national security. 

Former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman told Fox News in an interview that "Putin got what we wanted, which was a big summit before his parliamentary elections."

He continued: "I think China’s happy that Russia is such a thorn in our side. We take so much of our time and our energy and our resources to deal with Russia we have less to deal with China."

Sullivan told reporters Thursday that Biden plans to "engage in the coming month" with Chinese President Xi Jinping in "some way," though he did not specify if that would be an in-person encounter like his meeting with Putin.

The national security adviser argued Biden challenged Putin on "hard issues," but Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed Putin got a "pass."

"It really will be hard to know until we see how…the Russians behave in the coming months and after," Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Hal Brands told Fox News.

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Brands argued that Putin has put the Biden administration in a "jam."

"The United States would like its relationship with Russia to be more stable and quieter so it can focus on China – Putin knows that," he continued. "That gives Putin an incentive to be disruptive so he can try and raise the price the United States has to pay for calm in its relationship with Russia."

But Brands said the U.S.-Russia summit will not have an effect on China’s geopolitical strategy. 

"The drivers of China-Russia relations were pretty strong before the summit," he said. "They have a shared geopolitical animus towards the United States and they have a shared ideological imperative in protecting dictatorial regimes in a largely democratic world."

Biden hit China hard in the lead up to the Geneva summit when meeting with NATO leaders and the G-7 nations – seemingly to solidify ties to better counter China. 

The president urged the allied nations to stand against attempts by China and Russia to break the NATO alliance.

"Russia and China are both seeking to drive a wedge in our transatlantic solidarity," Biden said. 

But far from discouraging Chinese actions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, China doubled down on their growing partnership with Russia. 

"Any attempt to undermine China-Russia relations is doomed to fail," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said earlier this week. "We hope they will not go further down the path of zero-sum game."

Zhao said that despite concerns from western nations the China-Russia alliance is an "important force for stability in a turbulent world."

Earlier this month the Chinese leader described Putin as his "best friend" during a Moscow meeting between the two world superpowers. 

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"In the past six years, we have met nearly 30 times. Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague," Xi told reporters.

"We will strengthen our mutual support on key issues," Xi said.

But Brands argued that though the partnership between the two nations is a current threat to the U.S., he doesn’t believe it will last in the long term. 

"They have more often been rivals than partners," Brand said. "If you go back and look at the Cold War, communist China and communist Soviet Union had lots of geopolitical and ideological reasons to maintain a good relationship…and they couldn’t do it."

"The only way they can win the competitions against the United States is to separate the United States from its friends," he said. "Russia and China aren’t strong enough to take on the United State plus all of its allies."

Top China expert for the Hudson Institute, Michael Pillsbury, a senior fellow and director for Chinese strategy told Fox News that there’s "no way of knowing quite yet" if China will feel emboldened following Biden’s meeting with Putin. 

But Pillsbury argued that contrary to Biden’s tough talk on China, there is "not enough pressure" on the Asian superpower.

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Biden underscored eight major areas of concern in his last conversation with Xi in February, which included addressing China’s abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, along with their coercive economic practices, assertive actions in the Pacific, issues surrounding the coronavirus, climate change, and weapons proliferation. 

"There has been no sign of progress," Pillsbury said. Adding that Biden needs to "develop more leverage on China to make progress" in confronting the top adversary.

Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.