Putin sees Trump as "counterpart" at upcoming talks

14 July, 2018, 00:57 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump to address reporters in Helsinki: Kremlin

President Trump has signaled that he will take a much softer approach to his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin than he did with USA allies at this week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and in London - something that experts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle warned plays right into the hands of the Kremlin.

"These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday.

On Monday, President Trump will meet in Helsinki with Russian president Vladimir Putin, in a summit intended, as much as anything, to further a friendship Trump has desperately desired at least since he tweeted "will he become my best friend?" five years ago. "The president should not look at them as a competitor we need to get closer to". We'll be talking about other parts of the Middle East.

"I will absolutely bring that up", Trump said of Russian meddling.

Trump has touted the summit as an opportunity to reduce tensions, inflamed by Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, its military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which turned the tide of the Syrian civil war in 2015, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election.

"The proliferation is a tremendous, I mean to me, it's the biggest problem in the world, nuclear weapons, biggest problem in the world", Trump said alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May at her Chequers country residence.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment at a news conference on Friday.

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Meghan and Prince Harry were seen petting the Bernese Mountain pooches named Brod and Sioda in Dublin on Wednesday. Emma added: "She said she loved a handwritten postcard and that it was really nice to get one".

After Trump spoke, French President Emmanuel Macron said nothing had changed from NATO's earlier commitment, despite Trump's claims.

But Arizona Sen. John McCain - a frequent critic of both Trump and Putin - said in a statement Friday: "If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward". Putin has denied meddling in the election when Trump raised it before.

While nobody on either side expects big breakthroughs, including on USA sanctions, the summit is seen by Moscow as United States recognition of Russia's status as a great power and an overdue U.S. realisation that its interests must be taken into account. They build on what the Obama administration did after USA intelligence agencies concluded Moscow interfered in the 2016 election.

Based on his track record, some Democrats said they weren't sure whether Trump should be trusted to hold talks with Putin.

The announcement that Mueller obtained indictments of the 12, all members of Russia's military intelligence agency, came three days before Trump and Putin are to meet.

Will Republicans in Congress now finally side with the American people instead of acting like they are part of Trump's legal defense team, the way they did during the sham hearing Thursday as they grilled and personally attacked former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok?

But in Russian Federation, where the political system is obsessed with hierarchy, status and displays of raw power, Putin has "already got his victory", said Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, a foreign policy think-tank close to the Foreign Ministry.

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Indeed, very little happened in Brussels that had not been planned well in advance; apart from Trump sparking an unscheduled discussion about defense spending.

Despite Russia's semi-pariah status among some Americans and United States allies, the Kremlin has always been trying to arrange a summit, betting that Putin and Trump will get on well and stop a sharp downwards spiral in bilateral ties.

On Wednesday, Trump had rattled allies with provocative and insulting comments during the summit's first day.

He said the USA has been "modernizing and fixing" its nuclear weapons program and added "it's just a devastating technology and they [the Russians] likewise are doing a lot".

"This was an Obama disaster", Trump said.

Most of all, the Helsinki summit provides Trump yet another live trial of his honest belief that he is uniquely qualified to build relationships and negotiate hard deals with American adversaries.

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