Well, the US President Donald Trump has landed in Finland on Sunday night, and the long-awaited Helsinki summit has finally started. What is a bit surprising is that Trump fell under a lot of criticism from his own government because he failed to address and condemn the alleged Russian hacking that took place in the 2016 elections. But, since that is sort of “old news,” everyone is preparing for the meeting the two of the most powerful world leaders are going to have today.
This summit has been long overdue, and it comes right after the end of what turned out to be a truly tough diplomatic week over in Europe where POTUS openly criticised NATO military allies and Britain’s prime minister. All of this, of course, made Washington very concerned about the way that Trump will treat Putin during their talks, especially since we all know that he is a bit of a loose cannon. What really stuck in everyone’s ear is the fact that on Sunday Trump openly called their longstanding allies in the EU a “foe.”
As you already know, POTUS very openly categorized all the allegations of Russian intervening in the election and collusion with his campaign as a “witch hunt” but he also promised that he would ask Putin to extradite 12 Russian military intelligence officers, who were accused by US prosecutors of hacking Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails. Thanks to the fact that these indictments came on Friday just before this summit, we now have a huge pressure on the US president to criticize his Russian colleague right there in Helsinki.
The interesting thing happened this morning just before the meeting of these two presidents, and it was the fact that Trump basically blamed the former US president Obama for the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, where he won over Hillary Clinton. Trump went to Twitter and stated “President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it. When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt.” Of course, this Tweet brought a huge mess right onto Washington’s front door which is exactly why the US lawmakers have suggested the US president should cancel the summit. The Russians, on the other hand, defend themselves by stating that the allegations were unfounded and basically were a political tool with which the US government is trying to derail the bilateral talks.
CBS approached president Trump and asked him to comment on his “biggest foe globally right now,” and surprisingly right beside Russia and China (who are on this list for years), somehow EU made it as well. Trump said “The EU is a foe, what they do to us in trade . . . Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad.” John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, confirmed for us that the president has been briefed about the indictments of the Russian intelligence agents and stated: “I think the president can put this on the table and say, this is a serious matter that we need to talk about.”
Bolton also stated that it is “hard to believe” that Putin and his state had nothing to do with the 2016 election and that this issue will be something that Trump will raise directly. He continued by saying “That’s what one of the purposes of this meeting is, so the president can see eye to eye with President Putin and ask him about it.” He continued by adding that he does not expect that anything will be resolved with these talks and that they will be basically “unstructured.”
There is also another reason for this summit, and it is hidden behind the fact that both of these superpowers are trying to restart their bilateral exchanges in any form possible, with talks on Syria, Ukraine and arms control, but most of the world (unfortunately) has its expectations set pretty low.
US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, went on as much to claim that it is even wrong to categorize this meeting of the leaders as a summit. Nevertheless, what everyone is talking about, this meeting is definitely a win in Russia’s books, especially when we think about the fact that the relations between US and Russia have hit the all-time worse and the fact that some European countries are trying to diplomatically isolate Moscow.