What to expect from the Trump – Putin summit
The presidents of Russia and the United States, who had met only briefly at international forums until now, will hold a summit in Helsinki today. What does the world expect from the meeting?
The Finns bothered
Residents of the capital of Finland, which volunteered to host the two presidents, are already experiencing a lot of inconveniences in this regard. The reason is unprecedented security measures, connected, most likely, with the arrival of Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
For example, residents of the Finnish capital are advised not to open windows to watch the presidential motorcade – so that the security does not accidentally take them for snipers. In addition, along the route leading to the presidential palace where negotiations will take place sewer hatches have been welded shut.
To residents of Helsinki, such precautions may seem exotic, but the inhabitants of all Russian cities where Vladimir Putin has visited know that this is a standard procedure.
Russia: extreme restraint in forecasts
An aide to the Russian President Yuri Ushakov gave a press conference on the eve of the talks. His forecast of the outcome of the summit is striking in its restraint.
According to Ushakov, the agenda is “wide-ranging and includes a variety of issues on which the parties could cooperate”. Such a vague wording means that no specific agreements on sensitive issues in US-Russian relations – Syria, the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region, the annexation of the Crimea, interference in US elections, and the resulting sanctions – have been achieved in advance.
This assumption is confirmed by the fact that according to the Russian presidential aide, a joint press conference between Trump and Putin on the results of the talks is not planned.
US: intelligence concerns
The American media draw attention to the fact that the presidents plan to communicate tete-a-tete, that is only in the presence of interpreters. Given the numerous accusations against Trump that his connections with Russia are long-standing and not public, this raises concerns.
Immediately before the summit, for example, the Financial Times published an investigation signalling that that Trump’s business projects may have been financed by criminal money of Russian origin.
Perhaps, it is with these fears that, on the eve of the talks in Helsinki, the leaders of the American special services came crashing on Russia in connection with the intervention in the US presidential election in 2016. Charges were brought against 12 officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of Russia.
Europe: bargaining concerns
European countries are most afraid of becoming a subject of bargaining between Russia and the United States.
On the one hand, it is very important for Vladimir Putin, under sanctions, to drive a wedge between the United States and the European Union and take advantage of their contradictions.
On the other hand, during his trip to Europe, President Trump hinted quite transparently at one of his main goals. He urged the allies to abandon new purchases of Russian gas – thereby freeing this giant market for liquefied gas supplies from the United States.
Many Western media outlets agree that the summit in Helsinki can be exclusively a PR stunt.
Vladimir Putin needs it to demonstrate to his domestic audience that he has overcome international isolation and remains an influential player.
Donald Trump also needs to demonstrate that he’s achieving success in the international arena, where he’s been accused of lack of experience and impulsiveness.
As an example, observers cite recent Trump talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: massive PR, and no results to speak of.