BREAKING: Trump and Putin Met in Helsinki
HELSINKI, FINLAND — July 16, 2018
The President of the United States Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin met today in the Gothic Hall of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
The bilateral discussions between the Russian and American president will take place face-to-face. It will be followed by a wider working lunch in the Hall of Mirrors.
The two leaders "will discuss US-Russian relations and their further development, as well as current international matters." Nuclear weapons will no doubt be a major talking point as well.
Earlier Trump promised reporters he would raise the issue of the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
At the NATO summit last week, Mr. Trump told reporters he would “of course” mention it — but it didn’t sound like a talking point he’d seek to linger on.
“What am I going to do? He may deny it,” he added. “All I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ And, ‘Don’t do it again.’ But he may deny it.”
In addition, the US and Russian leaders will touch upon the military conflict in Syria, Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
Earlier Trump called Crimea ‘part of Russia’.
As for Syria, around 2000 American troops are still in Syria, tasked with defeating Islamic State, but Mr Trump wants to remove them.
It is not impossible that Trump will abandon US control of the region in exchange for promises from Putin that may or may not even be filled. The Russian leader has a history of backing out of peace deals with the US, and has caused chaos of his own by dropping bombs near US troop positions.
Whether Putin will actually abide by any promises made to Trump is another question entirely.
The wider talks will be followed by a joint press conference given by President Trump and President Putin in the Hall of State.
On July, 15 Trump made the comments on Twitter ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!" Trump said.
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin and lashed out at the investigation regarding Russian interference in the US election as he prepared for the summit in Helsinki.
The US president chose to blame "US foolishness and stupidity" and what he called the "rigged witch hunt" for bad relations with Russia in a tweet before the meeting. The Russian Foreign Ministry replied, "We agree".
According to Trump, the US special counsel's investigation into the alleged 2016 election interference is responsible for a steep decline in relations between Russia and the US.
But while US officials have stressed that the path to improving US-Russia ties runs through a clear-eyed understanding of Russian aggression and the root causes of discord in the relationship. Trump has signaled in the lead-up to the summit that he finds previous US administrators -- not Putin -- accountable for the breakdown.
Trump also congratulated the Russian president for hosting "one of the best ever" World Cup tournaments.
Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he hopes the summit with Donald Trump is a "baby step" toward fixing relations between the two countries.
Putin is expected to repeat denials of meddling in the 2016 US presidential campaign, according to Russian officials.